As the NAR attorney assigned to staff the Legal Action Committee, I have the pleasure of working with NAR members, association executives, and state and local association counsel and general counsels, all committed to supporting legal cases that could have a broad impact on the real estate industry.
The Legal Action Committee receives and evaluates requests for assistance in litigation of significance to NAR, state and local associations, the real estate profession, ownership and use of real estate, and private property rights.
NAR-supported cases have led to legal precedents established on topics including MLS copyright, antitrust, sign ordinances, fair housing, rent control, and eminent domain. To receive assistance, a case must show that it’s likely to have a substantial effect, directly or indirectly, on the real estate industry.
NAR’s Legal Action Committee has approved more than $1 million in funding for state and local REALTOR® association lawsuits in just the past few years. It has supported hundreds of cases since 1973.
New members must have participated in a state association–level legal action committee prior to NAR’s Legal Action Committee.
In some cases the REALTOR® association is the defendant, such as when a member sued the South Carolina Association of REALTORS® over an arbitration award. In other cases, the association is the plaintiff, such as when the St. Louis Association of REALTORS® sued St. Louis County, Mo., challenging a residential rental property licensing ordinance. Many cases do not involve REALTOR® associations, but rather, brokerages, MLSs, advocacy organizations, municipalities, or other entities.
Committee membership is a volunteer position, and interested applicants must comply with NAR’s committee application process. New members must have participated in a state association–level legal action committee prior to NAR’s Legal Action Committee. The NAR president-elect makes the appointments for any vacancies occurring during his or her presidency, and the NAR first vice president appoints the vice chair.
The committee meets semiannually during NAR’s REALTORS® Legislative Meetings in May and the REALTORS® Conference and Expo in November. New committee members are invited to the November meeting before their term to observe how the committee functions. During these committee meetings, associations, members, or other parties present their requests for assistance (after first having submitted a request form, which is available on nar.realtor). After hearing the request, the committee makes a recommendation to the Board of Directors on financial assistance in appropriate cases. In between meetings, members communicate through the Hub, NAR’s communication platform that ensures committee members are able to connect while keeping a record of those discussions.
If you think your association may have a case that warrants legal action assistance, download the Legal Action Program Request Form at nar.realtor, and return it to me at email@example.com. You can apply for support at any stage in your case. Be sure to explain in your application how your case may affect the real estate industry nationally. Parties seeking assistance are strongly encouraged to present the case to the committee in person or via phone conference. Keep in mind that any funds awarded may be applied only to the applicant’s legal fees and expenses. They may not be used to pay judgments, damages, fines, settlements, or opposing counsel legal fees.
For more on the Legal Action Program and an application for assistance, visit the Legal Action Committee on nar.realtor.