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RSF Board of Directors discuss legal costs

RANCHO SANTA FE — The RSF Association’s acting manager Ivan Holler broached the subject of the Association’s legal costs to the board of directors.

The Board unanimously agreed that a policy should be in place in regard to seeking legal advice and direction.

“To help manage the legal cost some members have expressed an interest in establishing a policy that would address the board of directors’ access to legal counsel,” said Holler, referring to the staff report which each board member had in front of them.

Holler went on to say that the recommendation would essentially set up a process for a request for legal advice and also help in an attempt to avoid the duplication of information which had already been sought in the past.

In essence, the policy effort was to help manage legal costs.

When reviewing the policy, Holler highlighted a few items.

First, he explained, board members would make a request regarding “legal questions” to the Association’s manager.

In many respects, the manager would be serving as a gatekeeper.

Holler wanted the board members to know that the manager would set out do the initial research to see if the answer needed would be present in its civil code, corporation’s code, or the association’s government documents.

If acquired, Holler said staff would forward the appropriate code section to the board member who requested the information.

Second, if the answer to the question was derived from a preexisting legal standpoint from the Association, this too, would be directed to the board member(s) making the inquiry.

Another aspect Holler covered was if a board member’s question would require legal advice from the Association’s legal counsel. In this case, the manager would obtain such advice and forward the information.

According to Holler, however, the latter scenario would come with provisions.

“One would be that the manager has a discussion to present such requests for legal advice from one or two board members to the entire board in the executive session,” he said.

Holler pointed out that the Association’s manger would not offer legal advice since they are not attorneys.

“And then finally, that the Board may at any time, by voting to do so, seeks advice directly from legal counsel without making a request,” Holler said. “So that is kind of the policy that is submitted for the Board’s consideration”

Initially, board member, Heather Slosar, questioned whether or not a policy was actually needed for this.

Board president Ann Boon pointed out that currently any board member can pick up the phone, call the attorney, and the lawyer will gladly spend their time to answer those questions.

Coupled with this phone time is a fee.

Boon believed the intent of the policy would allow a manger to call an attorney with a board member’s question if the time needed was limited, as in an hour or less. However, if a Director’s question involved more legal time, then it would be taken to the Board for consideration.

“So I think this gives the manager the flexibility to do either,” Boon said.

Holler agreed with Boon, explaining the manager would return to the Board to make sure they are comfortable with any particular legal expenditure before moving forward.