Published April 2018
The law firm of Becker (fomerly Becker & Poliakoff, P.A.), was established by Gary Poliakoff and Alan Becker in 1973 in Ft. Lauderdale. The firm has expanded over the years, adding offices in New York, New Jersey, and Washington, D. C. In Florida, the company serves community associations in Ft. Lauderdale, Ft. Myers, Ft. Walton Beach, Miami, Naples, Orlando, St. Augustine, Sarasota, Stuart, Tampa Bay, Tallahassee, and West Palm Beach.
Representing all types of community associations is a primary area of practice, while the firm also specializes in construction defect and business litigation, land use, zoning, government law and lobbying, real estate, and corporate law, all areas of the law which eventually impact private residential communities. “The firm’s growth, diversification, and expansion over the years reflect the founders’ original dedication to advocating for and defending the rights of the significant percentage of Florida’s population which resides in shared ownership communities,” shares Ken Direktor, Chair of the Community Association Practice Group.
Becker brings decades of broad expertise to their community association clients. Their business philosophy is to first focus on being a highly responsive law firm, deeply attentive to each client’s needs. They are prepared to help associations with the myriad of legal issues, both ordinary and extraordinary, that volunteer directors may encounter, from updating governing documents, collecting delinquent assessments, pursuing rights with regard to defect and insurance claims, or conducting online voting, to negotiating with the development going up next door.
Becker considers itself to be the board’s safety net in fulfilling its fiduciary duty to the members. However, this requires being informed of actions which may have legal consequences, such as signing contracts; approving or denying leases, sales, or ESA (emotional support animal) requests; making alterations; or a host of other activities. Becker Shareholder Donna DiMaggio Berger notes, “Serving on a community association board is tough enough—don’t do it without the necessary legal backup support.” Working with legal counsel can protect both the association and individual board members from liability.
One challenge that Becker encounters in working with community associations is protecting boards from inaccurate or misleading information they may gather on their own. Even the decision as to whether legal advice is necessary requires some knowledge of the law. “We often assist communities who have learned the hard way that proper advice would have cost less in the long run,” says Direktor.