After pivoting to a 100% virtual seminar in 2021 due to the Covid-19 health pandemic, the College of Community Association Lawyers (CCAL) was able to bring the Community Associations Institute (CAI) annual Law Seminar back to an in-person event in beautiful Palm Springs, California in February of this year.
Approximately 550 industry attorneys, insurance professionals, managers, and other service providers attended the Law Seminar in person, while another over 200 persons attended remotely in the first ever hybrid offering of the Law Seminar.
If I had to come up with an overall theme of this year’s Law Seminar, I’d have to say that the theme was WELLNESS:
- Wellness of community association buildings and infrastructure in the wake of the tragic Champlain Towers South Condominium collapse in Surfside, Florida in June of 2021;
- Wellness of community association attorneys in their legal careers and personal lives, both mentally and physically;
- Wellness of the owners and residents in the community associations we represent and serve, through handling difficult owners and navigating Board member discord; and
- Wellness of our industry by fostering diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) for attorneys practicing in the area of community association law and eliminating bias and prejudice within communities in general.
CAI’s new policies pertaining to condominium safety and reserves in the wake of the Champlain Towers South collapse were spotlighted. At this time, we still do not know what caused the building to collapse. Nonetheless, the CAI public policy team moved to get ahead of state legislatures that are now considering bills to further regulate reserves and building inspections in wake of the collapse. CAI prepared policy statements pertaining to reserves and funding which legislators can use as guidance. They are contained in CAI’s newly issued Condominium Safety Public Policy Report: Reserve Studies and Funding, Maintenance and Structural Integrity.
On the DEI front, CAI also highlighted its Diversity and Inclusive Communities Guide, while CCAL hosted for the first time ever a “Women in Community Association Law Meetup” at the Law Seminar. This social event was a place where veteran women community association law practitioners shared their experiences balancing work and family, becoming principals at their firms, and identifying mentors who were pivotal in their success along the way.
The Case Law Update is a Law Seminar fan favorite. Court decisions over the past year highlighted the application of the business judgment rule in Board decision-making, issues with easements and public access, the unreasonableness of exorbitant fines for covenants violations, and an entertaining case involving the comedian Kathy Griffin, a Nest doorbell security system, and a claim for invasion of privacy by the comedian’s neighbor in their California homeowners association.
There were also course sessions on perennial hot topics such as fair housing, debt collection, nuisances, zoning and housing restrictions, and insurance.
Aside from immersing ourselves in the latest in community association law, the true highlight was the ability to reconnect with fellow community association lawyers and industry professionals from the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area and across the country in a gorgeous desert setting.
By Leslie Brown, ESQ.
Leslie is a shareholder with Rees Broome, PC where she represents community associations, businesses, and non-profits in the Washington D.C. metro area. She was elected to the Chapter’s board of directors in 2019. Previously, she served as WMCCAI’s Communications Council Chair and Co-Chair of the Quorum Editorial Committee.