Condo Media - August 2010 - (Page 32)

VOLUNTEER SPOTLIGHT by Nena Groskind Seth Emmer “Elder Statesman” of Condominium Law Has Built Precedents — Now He’s Going to Build a Car any people fear retirement, wondering how they will spend unstructured days that are no longer crammed endlessly with appointments and lists of “things to do.” Seth Emmer isn’t one of them. “Twenty-two days and 15 hours,” he responded cheerfully in early June, when asked how he was feeling about his impending retirement. “But who’s counting?” A partner in the Massachusetts law firm Marcus, Errico, Emmer & Brooks (MEEB), and one of its founders, Emmer had been counting off the days for nearly a year as he winds down his condominium practice and prepares to end a legal career that has spanned 40 years. It’s not that he hasn’t enjoyed his work. Quite the contrary, Emmer says he has found the work both challenging and fulfilling. But after four decades, he says he’s grown tired of the daily grind and ready to move the varied interests he’s developed — in cars, travel, history and wine — from the periphery of his life to its center. He is leaving an industry and a body of law that he has done much to shape. “He is one of the elder statesmen of Massachusetts condominium law,” says Doug Errico, one of Emmer’s partners, who has known him for more than 30 years. “His thumbprint is on just about every major development in condominium law in Massachusetts and nationally,” continues Errico. “He has handled or been involved in many of the appellate decisions we cite and rely on every day.” M Making the Law It was the making of the law that Emmer found most challenging and exciting. “When I first started in the field, condominium law was new. You Seth Emmer retires after a 40-year legal career. were making law as you went along. That was all very exciting and challenging,” he says. On a long list of precedents in which he had a hand, two in particular stand out: One established the principle that a homeowners’ obligation to pay common area fees is “absolute.” The other established the broad authority of community associations to create and enforce their rules. Both were critical in the evolution of community associations in the state. Emmer also played a huge role in building the New England Chapter of Community Associations Institute (CAI-NE). “He was one of the pioneers in getting the chapter started,” Errico recalls. “[The association] might not exist, if not for him.” Recognizing his contributions both locally (as president and a board member of CAI-NE and founder and past president of CAI-NE’s Attorneys’ Committee) and nationally (as a moving force behind CAI’s College of Community Association Lawyers), CAI-NE selected Emmer for its “Outstanding Service Award” five years ago. “He has been an advocate for community associations, working tirelessly on their behalf, and demonstrating a commitment exhibited by only the rarest of volunteers,” Claudette Carini, the association’s executive director, said at the time. Praising Emmer’s contributions at the national level, Tom Skiba, CEO of CAI, emphasized his involvement in the College of Community Association Lawyers. “He did an outstanding job, not only in expanding the role of the college, but also in reaching out to attorneys and management company executives to encourage them to become more knowledgeable about the legal issues confronting the industry,” Skiba said. Emmer played a similar role within his law firm, serving as an information resource for other attorneys and a mentor to many of them. “If any of us had a difficult problem, or a situation we hadn’t encountered before, we’d ask Seth,” Errico says. “There weren’t many problems he hadn’t encountered before. He’d say, ‘Let me pull the file,’ and within an hour, I’d have an answer for my client.” 32 CONDO MEDIA • AUGUST 2010

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Condo Media - August 2010

Condo Media - August 2010
From the CED’s Desk
Editorial Board
CAI News
CAI Regional News
Asked & Answered
Homeowner’s Corner
Sue & Be Sued
Vendor Spotlight
Industry Perspective
Volunteer Spotlight
Advertisers Index
Classified Service Directory

Condo Media - August 2010