Who Is Our Community Association Corporate Counsel?

MaryHowellWho is that attorney who attends our Community Association Corporate Board Meetings and what does she do?

Mary Howell is a partner in the law firm of Epsten, Grinnell and Howell which is comprised of 28 attorneys. She is counsel to the SCSH Community Association Corporation. She advises the Directors on the law as it pertain to California Community Associations such as ours. (Click here to see a full listing of all laws the Community Association Corporation must follow.) Following this complex and voluminous set of laws can be overwhelming for Directors -- and yet, violations can result in law suits against the Community Association Corporation, the Directors as a Board, homeowners collectively as members of the Corporation as well as Directors personally. Mary Howell is at these meetings to protect the Association, its Directors and members from violations of the law. That is her function. It is standard procedures in large Community Association Corporations such as ours, for both the General Manager and the Corporate Counsel to be seated with Corporate Board Directors.

So what is her background and why did our Directors select her firm, Epsten, Grinnell and Howell to counsel our Corporation?

(The following is taken from the Epsten, Grinnell and Howell website at http://www.epsten.com/ )

Mary Howell graduated from the University of California, San Diego in 1972 with a B.A. in biology. She is a 1976 graduate of the University of San Diego School of Law. In practice in San Diego since December of that year and now a shareholder in the law firm of Epsten Grinnell & Howell, APC, Mary’s practice is limited to the representation of community associations. Clients include associations in San Diego, Riverside, and Orange counties. In addition to counseling associations on corporate governance and interpretation and enforcement of governing documents, Mary’s case work on behalf of associations encompasses litigation of CC&R enforcement cases, appellate representation, defense of common interest developments (e.g., breach of fiduciary obligation, wrongful termination, failure to maintain) and actions for declaratory relief.

A long-time champion of senior housing, Mary is well-known for her advocacy of seniors and her work on behalf of senior communities in California. As a respected authority on the topic, she has authored texts for attorneys on the federal and California laws that relate to age restricted communities. Mary has been lauded for her work by numerous civic organizations and state and local governments.

Mary has authored numerous articles and handbooks for homeowner associations, including Small Claims Court for Homeowner Associations, and the Resource Manual for California Senior Communities. Mary has served as a judge pro-tem for San Diego County courts, and has appeared in various cases as an expert witness on community association issues. She also serves on the Steering Committee of the State Bar’s Fair Housing and Public Accommodations Subsection.

From 1994 to present, Mary has served as an instructor for the California State Bar’s Continuing Education of the Bar classes on community associations and the Davis-Stirling Act. She is a past president of the San Diego Chapter of the Community Associations Institute and a frequent lecturer at CAI’s national Community Association Law Seminar, as well as CACM’s annual legal Symposium. Mary is a member of CAI’s College of Community Association Lawyers (CCAL). She serves on CAI’s amicus team, and CACM’s legislative committee. She recently co-authored the updated CEB text on Advising California Common Interest Developments, published in 2013. In 2014, the San Diego Daily Transcript named Mary as a Top Attorney in the Real Estate & Construction Transactional practice category.

University of California, San Diego, 1972
University of San Diego School of Law, 1976

Affiliations and Memberships:
State Bar of California
San Diego County Bar Association
College of Community Association Lawyers
Community Associations Institute (CAI), Member, Past San Diego Chapter President and Board Member
California Association of Community Managers (CACM), Member