Course DescriptionAccording to the Community Associations Institute, approximately 21% of Americans live in a condo, cooperative or other housing type governed by a homeowners or community association. What makes condominium associations particularly interesting to lawyers is that buildings worth tens or hundreds of millions of dollars, with revenues of several million dollars, are governed by volunteer boards with little or no experience in corporate governance, finance or the many other issues that must be decided by the boards. Management companies typically focus primarily on the management of the physical plant, receiving the association dues and preparing budgets, referring most of the other issues to legal counsel. This session focuses on the application of federal law to eliminate bias in condo associations. It covers the Americans with Disabilities Act, which is particularly important for condominiums as it affects allocation of parking spaces, treatment of therapy pets, accessibility to entrances and other facilities. It also addresses issues under the Fair Housing Act, such as accommodating different religious practices regarding door and holiday decorations and different requirements for facilities; and ensuring equal access to facilities by families with children under 18. Case law under these Acts will be discussed as well as the role of counsel in educating boards about diversity, inclusion and elimination of bias.
Meet the Lecturer(s)
Admitted to the New York bar in 1998, Marcia Harris has focused primarily on the practice of corporate law (corporate finance, corporate governance and corporate contracts) first with Shearman and Sterling (in New York, London and Paris) and then as corporate counsel for various non-profit and for-profit companies in London and New York. She became interested in condominium law during a consultancy to the Small Business Service of the U.K. Department of Trade and Industry, where she created an urban development plan that included developing commonhold (condominium) energy-efficient work space for small businesses and social enterprises with mortgages using tax-beneficial private sector investment funds. She then worked with Arup plc and the London Regional Government towards creating public-private finance funds to implement such development in the Thames Gateway region. She also served on the Steering Committee of Thames Strategy East (a partnership among the U.K. Environment Agency, the eleven Thames Gateway Local Authorities, the Port of London and the Thames Estuary Partnership) and as a member of the London Regional Government delegation to the C40 Sustainable Cities Summit in New York. Graduating in 1997 from New York University School of Law, she was the Managing Editor of the Journal of International Law and Politics, created and organized a symposium, Vietnamese Law in the Global Economy, on the development of business law and policy in Vietnam and was awarded the Jerome Lipper Prize for Outstanding Work in the Field of International Law. She is also qualified as a Solicitor of the Supreme Court of England and Wales. She has delivered New York state and English CLE courses on various issues in corporate law in New York, London and Frankfurt at Shearman and Sterling; Cleary, Gottlieb, Steen & Hamilton and elsewhere, and her publications are also in areas of corporate law. Her pro bono work includes serving as President of a residential condominium board in the U.K. and as a Director (including a term as President) of a residential condominium board in the U.S. She also provides informal pro bono advice to residential condominium board directors.