Re: Calif attorney recommendation?
From: Sharon Villines (
Date: Wed, 21 May 2008 09:28:54 -0700 (PDT)

Can anyone recommend a reasonably priced attorney to guide us through
incorporation and bylaws for our co-housing community in California? We
are a spiritually based group with 20-25 families. has both wonderful publications to help you understand what these processes require and a lawyer directory.

Nolo Press, for those who are unaware of them, was the leader in demystifying legal services by publishing books that either allowed you to do it yourself or helped you understand the legal gobbledy-gook.

In the 1970s, for the very young, people were not allowed to see their medical records AT ALL, nor even fill out a form without a lawyer. And the legal documents were completely indecipherable.

If you understand what your options are and make a stab at agreeing to what you want, you won' t present yourself as a ready victim.

I don't know anything about the Lawyer Directory at Nolo (they are paid listings) but given the reputation that Nolo has for publications, I would assume that no high-priced lawyer would want to be listed there.

Two stories:

1. One group paid $15,000 and got an almost 3" thick pile of papers that were simply a computer print out of every provision that had ever been included in any community bylaws or property offerings. The group was supposed to pick and choose and the lawyer would handle it from there.

2. Another group working with a developer received at no cost a thin packet (25 pages?) of suggested provisions and helped the group choose between them. The group still had to process the Bylaws they wanted, but these only took their own time -- they weren't paying $400 an hour.

Real estate purchases are obviously serious and are different from one state and locality to another and you definitely need a lawyer, but being an informed consumer will help you choose a lawyer as well as save time spent asking for explanations.

Sharon Villines in Washington DC
Where all roads lead to Casablanca

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