Condo Media - June 2018 - 32
Perkins & Anctil Attorneys at Law
A Constant to Rely on in an Ever-Changing World
[by Pamela Schweppe]
The Greek philosopher Heraclitus once said,
"The only thing that is constant is change."
You don't have to work in the condominium industry
for long to realize that truth: the one constant you can
always count on are new challenges coming to the fore.
After all, back in the '80s, who could have predicted
some of today's hot-button issues? Issues like service
and support animals, hoarding, the legalization of
recreational marijuana, short-term rentals such as
Airbnb, anti-discrimination laws, hostile environment
harassment, and the special challenges of over-55 communities and residents aging in place.
Perkins & Anctil P.C. specializes in confronting and resolving the special challenges of multi-family living. The
Westford, Mass.-based firm was launched in 1996, when
founding partner Charles A. Perkins Jr., who has been
practicing condominium law since 1988, joined forces
with managing partner Robert W. Anctil, expanding the
firm's practice to include all aspects of real estate law.
Admitted to practice in Massachusetts, New Hampshire,
and Maryland, the firm's team of attorneys handles a full
range of condominium, real estate, construction, business, bankruptcy, employment, and general litigation
matters, successfully navigating all levels of state and
federal courts, as well as local and administrative agency
commissions and municipal boards.
Their experience has given them special insight into
how to handle the unique and complicated challenges
confronting condominium associations today.
A POLICY OF CREATIVE CONFLICT AVOIDANCE
Take the issue of service and support animals. "There's
a tendency to become desensitized to these things or
get jaded by so many requests for service and support
animals," says partner Scott J. Eriksen. "But it's really
important to treat each one on an individual basis,
because the penalties and potential liability for failing
to do that are significant."
Perkins & Anctil has a policy of what they call "preventive conflict management," or trying to avoid conflict
whenever possible. "We actively do a lot of creative con-
flict avoidance," says Anctil. That includes getting a third
party involved when appropriate. When hoarding is an
issue, for example, the focus is on bringing in the board
of health, elder services, or mental health professionals
who can address the underlying issues.
"While there is a legal mechanism in place to address
hoarding, we do our best not to spend the client's money
on an issue that's better left to mental health professionals," he says. "Our focus is: how do we get out of this
quickly, equitably, and economically, while also preserving the values of the condominium association."
KEEPING UP WITH THE TIMES
Of course, providing the best representation in these
emerging sources of conflict means keeping up with
current trends. "One of the things we find in our firm
is the need to continually reinvent and educate ourselves," says Perkins.
"Education continues daily," says director David R.
Chenelle, who leads the firm's Lien Enforcement and
Bankruptcy Departments. "Every morning I receive
blogs that tell me the trend of the day or the case of the
day, and we also educate ourselves through frequent
One meeting is the national law seminar held annually by the College of Community Association Lawyers
(CCAL). For the last seven years, at least three Perkins
& Anctil attorneys have attended the conference, and
Eriksen has been a speaker. "It's useful when we go to
these educational seminars and we are the educators,"
says Eriksen. "Oftentimes in that capacity we'll engage
with members of the audience, and they'll bring up
something new or give a new spin on a similar problem.
That dialogue gives us an opportunity to do some more
research and expand our knowledge base."
The firm is a member of both the New England
chapter and national Community Associations Institute
(CAI), and its attorneys are active volunteers. Perkins is
a member of the Massachusetts Legislative Action Committee (MALAC) and CCAL; Eriksen is co-chair of the
Attorneys' Committee, of which Chenelle is also a mem-