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October 15, 2012
Committee considers action on association manager UPL issues

A 1996 Supreme Court opinion on what legal activities can be performed by community association managers (CAMs) is still good law, according to the Standing Committee on the Unlicensed Practice of Law.

The committee has asked Bar staff to prepare a draft opinion reaffirming that position and seeking clarification on four of the 14 questions raised by the Real Property, Probate and Trust Law Section.

The committee took the action last month at the Bar’s Midyear Meeting in Orlando and after it discussed the section’s request.

The section, in a letter, argued it was time to revisit the 1996 opinion and listed the 14 areas where the section said CAMs were going beyond the ministerial functions allowed by the court and performing tasks that require the skills of lawyers. The activities range from determining quorums necessary for various association activities to preparing certificates for foreclosure or delinquent accounts to preparing and executing various contracts.

More than three hours of testimony on the section’s request was presented to the committee when it met in June at the Bar Annual Convention.

Typically, the committee goes into a closed session to discuss such items, but decided to open its deliberations, because of the amount of interest in the subject.

The committee is empowered to propose advisory opinions on matters relating to UPL, and those opinions are then reviewed by the Supreme Court.

The committee asked for a draft opinion affirming the 1996 opinion and only addressing four items. The preparation of the draft does not mean the committee has decided to issue a new opinion and send that to the court. Rather, committee members will consider the draft at its next meeting, which has not yet been scheduled, and then decide if they want to proceed further.

On two items, the committee is only seeking clarification by example of what constitutes UPL. Those issues involve the “modification of limited proxy forms promulgated by the state” and “preparation of documents concerning the right of the association to approve new prospective owners.”

On the other two, the committee is seeking guidance on how to apply the holdings of the 1996 opinion to those items. They involve the “drafting of pre-arbitration demands” and “identifying, through review of title instruments, the owners to receive pre-lien letters.”

All the committee’s information on the matter, including RPPTL’s inquiry letter, a transcript of the June public hearing, and written submissions, can be found on the Bar’s website in the unlicensed practice section under the Lawyer Regulation heading.

[Revised: 01-21-2014]