Yesterday, in response to an Associated Press article urging attorneys to volunteer more time for pro bono work, I published “Is Pro Bono Really The Answer To The Legal System’s Problems?” These articles both address the access to courts challenge in our legal system, but do so from a very big picture perspective.
I’d like to get more specific about the issue by analyzing a legal area near and dear to my heart: mechanics lien compliance.
The Challenge Businesses Face With Mechanics Lien Compliance
Construction and material supply companies transact business across state lines all the time. It’s a fact of business, and generally speaking, not much changes in how these companies work or supply as they move from one state to another. There is no such consistency in the mechanics lien laws.
Each state has a different mechanics lien statute with different deadlines and notice requirements. Further, lawyers are regulated state-by-state, and so a company’s legal counsel can only help them in a limited number of jurisdictions.
For the purposes of this post, imagine a company that supplies building materials in 20 different states. How does this company:
- Get legal guidance as to its preliminary notice and mechanics lien deadlines?
- Understand which preliminary notice form to send out on each project, and to whom, as this differs depending on the type of project, the supplier’s tier, whether the materials are “specially fabricated,” and more?
- Prepare and send out preliminary notice form documents for each project?
I think we would all agree that hiring an attorney in every single state to advise the company on every individual project would be a non-starter. Further, I don’t know a single law office willing to affordably send out hundreds or thousands of notice letters for a client each month.
Nevertheless, the company may need help making legal compliance decisions on lots of projects, in lots of different places.
What Is Your Advice?
This is where you chime in. Please comment below with your advise to these clients. How do they comply with the mechanics lien and preliminary notice requirements? Does our legal system have a way to help them?