A couple days ago, Scott posted a query: How Can Clients Handle Notice Compliance? That post was, in part, geared toward trying to frame the problem of mechanic lien notice compliance as one sub-set of the problems within the legal profession as a whole – and trying to crowd-source ideas on how it can be resolved from you, our readers. My takeaway from the post and responses so far, is that the legal system as it is currently set up is not geared toward nor legitimately capable of providing a cost-effective, convenient, and quality solution to this conundrum. Granted, when one takes a step back and looks at the challenges faced by our legal system as a whole, the ability of business to conveniently provide statutorily required mechanic’s lien notices is fairly ow on the list. But, to those business that need to provide these notices in more than one state the issue is plenty important.
Scott presumed that it would be non-controversial to start the discussion with the idea that hiring an attorney in every state would be a non-starter. I happen to agree with Scott on this for several reasons.
First, the cost would be astronomical to hire an attorney in every state in which the company does business and task him or her with drafting and sending out all required preliminary notices for every project the company does in that state – not to mention researching owners/lenders/legal descriptions/etc. Even if the cost was not a roadblock, this solution presupposes that the company itself already has a mechanic’s lien compliance procedure in place that notifies each separate attorney when a new project is started in his or her state and is in communication with each attorney when updates are needed, statuses change, or more information is required.
While, in a perfect world, it might be nice to have an attorney on-call in every jurisdiction to ensure compliance and stand ready to enforce all lien claims, I just don’t think it’s a feasible. And, while our readers are no doubt the exception, many lawyers just don’t know about the intricacies of the mechanic’s liens requirements.
So, what can be done? As Scott said, this is not an easy question to answer.
In my opinion, the answer lies outside the “traditional” legal system for this reason: If a company could outsource their mechanic’s lien notice requirements to one company, that relationship would almost necessarily have to be outside the traditional attorney/client relationship (if only for fiscal and jurisdictional issues).
Legal “self-help” or document preparation companies can help fill this void. While attorneys would be needed to foreclose a lien, or give any specific legal advice regarding the lien process and or right to lien as related to the client’s situation, a company can file notices and liens with the assistance of a document preparation company such as levelset. The ability to centralize the notice and lien process – and only talk to one company – not a different attorney in every state is invaluable. Of course, as with everything, there is a trade-off – specific legal advice is not available.
I think that in most situations, the ability to of a company to streamline operations and funnel notice compliance through one individual company is the best way to go, and the traditional legal system should be the fall-back, specialty service for particular situations that cannot be handled by other means. This two-part solution is the best answer I have. What do you think?