What's it like to be legal counsel for Chester County's communities? As solicitor for the…
Gawthrop Greenwood, PC is announcing a merger with renowned community association law firm Steven L. Sugarman & Associates, forming one of the largest law firms supporting homeowners associations (HOAs), planned communities, condominium associations and cooperatives across Pennsylvania in the residential and commercial arenas.
Effective August 1, 2023, nationally recognized community association lawyer Steven L. Sugarman will lead Gawthrop Greenwood’s community association law practice joined by attorneys Elliot H. Berton and Robert M. Mulhern, Jr., also of Steven L. Sugarman and Associates. The announcement comes seven months after Gawthrop Greenwood announced a merger with the community association law firm Landis & Setzler, PC and attorneys Holly L. Setzler and James D. Doyle. The merger with Gawthrop Greenwood’s Community Association Law Department, together with Gawthrop Greenwood’s dozens of attorneys from multiple disciplines, creates a powerhouse practice. Most significantly, it provides the comprehensive suite of legal services required to support the intensifying needs of community association board members, builder-developers, buyers, sellers, realtors and municipalities who are grappling with increased accountability to state and federal regulations, as well as homeowners seeking to raise their property values.
A community association law attorney for more than 40 years, Sugarman has played a critical role in establishing statutory and decisional law governing Pennsylvania’s common interest communities (CICs). As the chair and active member of the Community Association Institute’s (CAI) Legislative Action Committee for many years, Sugarman drafted and advocated for key amendments to Pennsylvania’s statutes as community associations have evolved into the fastest-growing form of housing. He also serves as an expert witness on community association matters brought before Pennsylvania’s courts and General Assembly. A member of the prestigious College of Community Association Lawyers since 2000 and a past president of CAI’s regional chapter, Sugarman developed and teaches one of the few law school courses nationwide on condominium and homeowner association law as an adjunct professor at the Villanova University Charles Widger School of Law. He is a frequent lecturer at the local and national levels on real estate and community association matters.
Community associations are the country’s fastest growing housing model, according to the Foundation for Community Association Research. Approximately 1,320,000 Pennsylvanians live in 541,000 homes in more than 6,930 community associations, according to the Community Associations Institute (CAI). Community association housing is expected to become the most common form of housing by 2040.
“The majority of new housing developments are approved in Pennsylvania only if they are governed by a community association to handle traditional municipal service such as street and sidewalk maintenance, trash pickup and stormwater management,” said Sugarman, who notes this is part of a national trend that has intensified in Pennsylvania in the past decade. “To my knowledge, there is no other mid-sized law firm covering all of Pennsylvania that has a practice group enhancing the quality of services to community associations while providing cost-effective and practical solutions in this way. Now we can support a wider range of issues as we continue to assist communities with transitioning from the declarant, amendments to governing documents, compliance with state and federal statutory laws and much more.”
“Gawthrop Greenwood will now be serving hundreds of community associations across Pennsylvania with the expanded yet cost-effective services of a mid-sized law firm that are of limited availability to these clients elsewhere,” said Stacey L. Fuller, chair of the management committee at Gawthrop Greenwood, PC. “Historically, community association law has been a boutique industry, but clients are demanding a wider array of services that can be supported by our team of litigators, municipal, land use and zoning law attorneys, employment law attorneys and other experienced practitioners. This is a momentous development for our firm, which began by serving the farming communities of rural Chester County in 1904 and has evolved to support a booming business and residential corridor.”
Sugarman, Berton and Mulhern will continue to operate primarily from their Berwyn office, adding to Gawthrop Greenwood’s current offices in historic West Chester, PA and their Greenville office in Greater Wilmington, DE.
Since its founding in 1904, Gawthrop Greenwood has become one of the most prominent law firms in the greater mid-Atlantic region. The firm has produced seven judges, 11 presidents of the Chester County Bar Association and numerous high-profile lawyers whose commitment to unparalleled service has long distinguished the firm. The first female judge in Chester County came from Gawthrop Greenwood, as did two judges who went on to the Superior Court of Pennsylvania, another who became a Federal District Court Judge and three who have served as President Judge of Chester County.
Gawthrop Greenwood’s expanded suite of community association law services includes:
- General Counsel
- Assessment Collection
- Transition from Declarant Control
- Board Meetings
- Special and Annual Meetings
- Elections and Voting Issues
- Rule and Architectural Enforcement
- Drafting and Amending Governing Documents
- Contract Preparation
- Insurance Defense and Coverage
- Developer and Contractor Litigation
- Loan and Financing Document Review
- Statutory Compliance
- Zoning and Municipal Issues
- Opinion Letters
- Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR)
- Fair Housing Issues and Compliance
- Employment and Personnel Issues