Legal Action Committee Procedures
Procedures for Submission and Consideration of Requests for Financial Assistance:
I. Parties seeking financial assistance from the Legal Action Committee should carefully review and follow the procedures set forth below. Failure to adhere to these procedures may result in a denial of financial assistance or a delay in consideration and action on the request.
A. Request financial and other assistance from the State Association of the jurisdiction where the case originates. Where appropriate, support should also be requested from other local Associations or Boards who have a Legal Action program and who may be affected by the case. The Committee is very reluctant to provide funding for cases which have not been first considered by the appropriate State Association and local Association or Board. In some rare situations the solicitation of such assistance is precluded by particular unique circumstances, but careful advance planning will generally permit such a request to be submitted and considered prior to the time assistance is sought from the NAR Legal Action Committee. Although support at the local or State level is not necessarily a prerequisite to support by the NAR Legal Action Committee, the Committee generally will not award support without at least the recommendation of the State Association, except in the most extraordinary circumstances.
B. Complete the Legal Action Committee Request Form. Parties requesting financial assistance must complete the Legal Action Request Form and forward it to the Office of the General Counsel at least three weeks in advance of the Committee meeting. Advance completion of this form allows the staff to review it and request any additional information, permits the staff to provide information about the case to Committee members for their careful review prior to the meeting date, and insures that the case can be scheduled on the agenda of the Committee meeting. Failure to provide information well in advance of the meeting may eliminate the opportunity of Committee members and staff to carefully review and understand the case, which may thereby reduce the likelihood that financial assistance, will be provided.
In completing the Request Form, it is essential that all items be completed. If you have any questions regarding any item, contact the staff in Chicago for clarification. It is important to indicate the specific amount requested, but it should be recognized that the Committee rarely, if ever, provides full funding in a case. A more typical practice in cases which the Committee deems worthy of support is to award one-third of the amount needed, with the balance to be provided by the State Association, the local Association, or the litigants themselves.
C. Unless it is absolutely impossible, the party seeking assistance may, and preferably should, make a presentation about the case to the Committee at its meeting.An appearance by the party seeking assistance and/or the State and local Association or Board supporting the request is strongly encouraged. While an oral presentation to the Committee is not a prerequisite of financial assistance, such an appearance is often quite helpful to the Committee. Committee members recognize that such persons are often not lawyers and not prepared to discuss the technical legal nuances of the case. Such an appearance is essential, however, to the Committee's understanding of the practical nature and importance of the legal issues involved, and of the significance of those issues both locally and nationally.
Prior to the Committee meeting, parties requesting assistance will receive a copy of the summary of the request, prepared by the Committee staff, and specific information regarding the date, time and location of their appearance before the Committee. Any corrections to the summary, or other questions or concerns about the appearance, should be directed to the staff at the earliest time possible.
II. The Committee follows the following procedures in receiving and considering requests for assistance:
A. The Committee members receive, in advance of the meeting, a copy of the completed Legal Action Committee Request Form submitted by the parties requesting assistance, along with the summary of that Request prepared by the staff. This enables Committee members to come to the meeting with an understanding of each case and fully prepared to discuss its merits and implications.
B. Those appearing before the Committee seeking assistance are given the opportunity to make a brief presentation of not more than approximately 15 minutes in length to describe the case, and its legal and practical significance. Parties may be represented at the Committee meeting by anyone they may select, including but not requiring counsel, although it is advantageous if those in attendance are able to provide information relevant to the Committee's consideration of the case. No limit is placed on the number of persons who may appear, but the Committee's meeting room typically will accommodate not more than 3 to 5 persons representing a party. The Committee is specifically interested in the views of the appropriate State Association or local Board(s) regarding the case, and the amount of support, if any, which those organizations have agreed to provide.
Persons appearing before the Committee are not expected to provide an extensive or detailed technical discussion of the legal arguments, proceedings, issues or merits of the case, but they should have a reasonable familiarity with the issues raised by the case and the significance of those issues. It is essential to explain to the Committee why the case will have national legal impact. The purpose of the Committee is to assist in cases of such significance, and not to provide support in cases which have little or no precedential value or have precedential importance but only in a limited area or jurisdiction. The importance of cases raising issues of Federal law is usually apparent; where cases raise issues of state or local law the requesting party needs to explain how the results of the litigation are likely to affect the industry, real estate professionals or property owners in other areas.
One individual should act as principal spokesperson for the requesting party. The spokesperson should introduce himself or herself and the others accompanying him or her, and then proceed to provide a brief presentation as to why the case merits support from NAR. Others accompanying the spokesperson may add to the discussion as appropriate. During or after the presentation, members of the Committee, as directed by the Chairman, may ask questions of those appearing on behalf of the request. The purpose of the presentation and such questions is to provide the Committee with all information necessary to reach a proper conclusion regarding support for the case. When the Committee is satisfied that it has sufficient information about the case, the representatives of the requesting party will be excused and the Committee will deliberate and adopt an appropriate recommendation.
C. The Committee's recommendations for support are presented to the NAR Executive Committee, and thereafter to the NAR Board of Directors for approval. Committee members and staff may not discuss those recommendations prior to the Board of Directors meeting. Parties requesting assistance will also receive formal written notification of the Board's action within 1-2 weeks following the conclusion of the meetings.
D. Where support is awarded to a case, that support is disbursed, subject to the terms and conditions of support, upon receipt of bills for attorney fees and expenses by the Office of the General Counsel.
Any other questions or information regarding the foregoing or the operation of the Committee may be addressed to Staff Executive, Legal Action Committee, at the NAR office in Chicago, telephone (312) 329-8375.