Attorney Gregory S. Cagle is out to change all that. A lead partner of the Master Planned Community and Condominium Practice Group of Savrick Schumann, Cagle is driven to educate those aforementioned residents, helping them understand their rights and the value of their respective HOAs.
To help accomplish that, he has written a legal reference book that is written specifically for Texas homeowners living in association-governed communities and persons serving in leadership positions in Texas homeowners associations. It’s called Texas Homeowners Association Law. For more information on the book, visit http://texashoabook.com/
For more information on Cagle, check out the Wednesday interview below:
1. Describe your legal practice?
My legal practice primarily consists of representing clients in complex civil litigation involving real estate, business disputes, construction defects, products liability and intentional torts, as well as representing homeowners associations as general counsel on all aspects of issues involved in the operation and governance of association-governed communities, including management issues, compliance with federal and state laws, interpretation of and compliance with governing documents, architectural review of proposed construction, covenant enforcement, assessment collection, litigation, and dispute resolution.
2. What are the biggest challenges of those you interact with on the legal front, and what is the key to helping them resolve those challenges?
With respect to homeowners associations, the biggest challenge to volunteer homeowners serving on the Board of Directors of their homeowners association is learning and implementing the laws that regulate the management and operation of a homeowners association in Texas. Most homeowners that serve on their homeowners association’s board of directors have never served on a corporate board of directors and have little understanding of the fiduciary duties that they have assumed as directors of a nonprofit corporation or of the statutory laws that govern their actions. This is particularly true of self-managed homeowners associations that are managed solely by the volunteer homeowners serving on the board of directors without the benefit of a professional manager or management company.
The key to helping homeowners that serve on boards of directors of homeowners association resolve such issues is by ensuring that these homeowners have access to educational material on the laws that govern Texas homeowners associations as well as opportunities to attend education seminars on topics relevant to association-governed communities.
3. What are the advantages to practicing law in Austin?
Though the Austin metropolitan area is one of the fastest growing in the country, the Austin bar has managed to retain that small town feel where most lawyers still know or know of each other and your reputation can, and often does, precede you. I have found that there is often less than 2 degrees of separation between most lawyers in Austin and this lack of anonymity, that otherwise exists in bigger cities like Dallas or Houston, ensures that most lawyers here still treat each other with civility and professionalism. The biggest advantage to practicing law in Austin, however, is getting to live in Austin.
4. How would you improve the legal profession if you could?
One of the biggest issues affecting the legal profession today is the deterioration of its public image. I am amazed how the term “trial lawyer” has been transformed by politicians and the media into a 4-letter word that is often used nowadays to disparage a political candidate or political agendas. Instead of accusing an opposing candidate of being a charlatan or a swindler, he or she is accused of being a “trial lawyer” or having accepted campaign contributions from “trial lawyers.” In fact, in the upcoming senatorial election, Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst is currently running a political ad accusing his opponent Ted Cruz, an appellate lawyer and former Solicitor General of Texas, of being a “trial lawyer.” I grew up believing and still do believe that being a trial lawyer is an honorable and noble profession. It is remarkable that one of the most respected and beloved literary characters of all time is To Kill a Mocking Bird’s Atticus Finch, a trial lawyer. The legal profession needs to do more to challenge the portrayal of lawyers as the pestilence of society and to remind the public of the roles great trial lawyers, such as Abraham Lincoln and Clarence Darrow, have played in our history.
5. Who or what was your biggest influence in becoming a lawyer and why?
My great grandfather was one of the most selfless, genuine and caring persons I have ever known. Though not a lawyer, he was involved in many charitable and civic organizations and he always strived to make a positive difference in his community. I was inspired by him to pursue a career in a profession that would afford me the opportunity to also make a positive difference in my community, which ultimately lead me to the legal profession. Over the last 14 years I have found that being a lawyer is a challenging career, but also one that affords me a unique opportunity to be a positive influence in people’s lives when they most need it, which I have found to be very rewarding.