Can the Board disclose our attorney fee invoices to the general membership in an effort to be transparent? While the motivation is appropriate, and transparency is important to a healthy association, disclosure of the attorney fee invoices may create more problems than it solves.
The nature of the attorney fee invoices we provide for our services is descriptive, giving itemized accounts of the representation. If the Board is not careful about what is on those invoices, privileged attorney client information can be inadvertently given to the general membership through the invoices. If that happens, then attorney-client privilege is waived as to everyone, even non-members.
Another cause for concern is that many associations have documents that prohibit or limit the amount of information a unit owner can obtain through a books and records request, specifically information regarding enforcement of the governing documents. The invoices will detail the actions taken on any enforcement action. This is information, that depending on your documents, may not be available to owners.
In addition, collections are specifically detailed with the owner’s name. This is similar to publishing a list of delinquent owners, which is something that we never recommend in order to protect the privacy of the owners, as well as being mindful of fair debt laws. It is very important that any invoice, prior to providing copies to members outside the Board, is properly redacted to protect any privileged or otherwise unauthorized information from being distributed. It is in the best interests of the Association to not take that chance, by not publishing the attorney fee invoices. The amounts owed to the attorney are common expenses and the owners are permitted to know the amounts, not the specific details of each matter.