Each quarter, Texas REALTORS® highlights the staff in one of the association’s departments.
Think of the Texas REALTORS® Legal Department, and you probably think of the Legal Hotline.
Attorneys average 97 calls per weekday and answered more than 17,000 calls in 2019. Calls often focus on TREC rules, ethics questions, or clarifications of MLS policies, says Staff Attorney Traci Jackson, one of three attorneys who regularly answers calls. Surveyed members rank the hotline among the association’s most valuable services.
But the Legal Department does so much more than that. The nine-member team is involved in nearly every aspect of the association’s work, including:
- Drafting and reviewing contracts and bylaws
- Managing and updating the library of more than 130 forms exclusively for members
- Monitoring relevant lawsuits and legislation
- Creating model policy manuals
- Providing leasing and property management guidance
- Advising TREPAC on compliance with ethics rules
- Serving as legal counsel to multi-board managed local associations
- Working with FEMA and other partner agencies on educational webinars
- Supporting the Professional Standards process
Recently, the department drafted new COVID-19 related member forms and return-to-work policies. “We are problems solvers,” says Lori Levy, vice president of Legal Affairs and general counsel. “When other departments have questions, we try to help and solve those problems.”
Kelly Flanagan, deputy general counsel for advocacy and governance, says staff in the Legal Department collaborates often—projects are reviewed by more than one attorney. They also work as a team when hiring new attorneys—the entire department interviews job applicants and will go around the room until there are no more questions.
Department members enjoy meeting on Zoom to discuss legal issues—especially those with no clear answer—and sometimes lighten their Zoom meetings by sharing movie and TV recommendations.
“We sharpen each other professionally,” says Flanagan. “The law isn’t always clear—we have in-depth collaborations that I really appreciate, where thoughts and questions are thrown around in a very open environment in order for us to reach the most appropriate legal conclusion or interpretation.”
“Everyone feels free and confident to share their legal opinion,” Levy says. “I am so proud of everyone individually. They are such a joy to work with.”
The Legal Department is composed of Lori Levy, vice president of Legal Affairs and general counsel; Kelly Flanagan, deputy general counsel for advocacy and governance; David Jones, senior associate counsel; Iman Ali, associate counsel; Robin Harris, associate counsel; Ryan Bauman, staff attorney; Traci Jackson, staff attorney; Laura Miller, staff attorney; and Chelsea Nobert, legal administrative assistant.