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Romero Park P.S. Open House and Crayola Crayon Drive

Come join us on Wednesday, November 13th for our very special Ribbon Cutting with the Bellevue Chamber of Commerce! Also, for the month of November, please drop by to donate a new box of Crayola Crayons for the Seattle Children’s Hospital. For more details, check out our Facebook or Twitter!!!

https://www.facebook.com/RPWlaw

https://twitter.com/RomeroPark

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Please Welcome Jessica Barcz, our new Legal Assistant!

Romero Park is pleased to announce that Jessica Barcz has joined our Bellevue, Washington office as a Legal Assistant. Jessica was born and raised in Colorado just outside of Denver and come to us after graduating from the University of Hawaii with a Bachelors of Science in Marine Biology. She also recently graduated from the Paralegal program at University of Washington last June. In her free time, she enjoys hiking, playing with her dogs, and hanging out with her family. Jessica is also a Dive Master. She has been diving since she was 15; diving in the Carribean, Tahiti, Tonga, Hawaii and of course her home state, Colorado. One of her greatest experiences, she says, was free diving to check a system of caves to see how often they were being used and by which shark. How awesome!!

We are ecstatic to have Jessica on our team and Justin is very excited to have her as his assistant and looks forward to working with her.

Next time you call the firm’s Pacific Northwest office, be sure to say hello.

welcome Jessica!!

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Please welcome Chris Powell, our newest associate!

Romero Park P.S. is pleased to announce that Chris Powell has joined our San Diego, California office as an associate attorney. Chris graduated magna cum laude from California Western School of Law in 2012. While in law school, Chris served as Editor-in-Chief of the California Western Law Review. He also won numerous academic awards, including awards for attaining the highest grade in his class in Civil Procedure, Evidence, Business Organizations, Sports Law, and Legal Skills. Chris also wrote a scholarly comment, which was published in 2011 and won an award for its contributions to the legal community.

As some of you may know Chris was a law clerk at the firm before joining us. Chris will continue his practice of business law with an emphasis on contracts and dispute resolution. Chris also practices sports law, including premises liability and co-participant liability.

Chris brings a unique skillset to our firm. Prior to entering the field of law, Chris travelled the world as a professional mountain biker. He represented the United States at the 2004 World Mountain Bike Championships where he finished eighth. After retiring from cycling, Chris served as a coach and equipment manager for BMX cyclists who won Silver and Bronze medals at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

From these experiences, Chris developed a unique understanding of the recipe for success: preparation, dedication, teamwork, and execution. This translates well to the practice of law, as Chris applies the same methodical approach he used to excel as a professional athlete to help his clients achieve their goals when entering into new opportunities or resolving disputes.

Please join us in welcoming Chris Powell to the firm. His contact info is (858) 592-0065. Chris can also be reached at cpowell@romeropark.com

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Romero Park P.S. welcomes their newest staff members!

You might have noticed a new voice as you have phoned in to Romero Park’s Pacific Northwest office over the last several months. This new voice is the firm’s newest staff member, Sharree’ Dame.

Sharree’ is a native of Washington State and coming from Lacey, WA. When she is not managing the firm’s front office, she enjoys riding motorcycles, reading, and spending time with her family. She recently graduated from DeVry University in 2013 with a Bachelor’s of Science in Network Communications and Management.

Already in the short time Sharree’ has been with RP, she have become an integral part of providing high quality legal services to RP’s clients. “We are so pleased to have her join our firm. She has just stepped right in and is already taking on significant responsibility in the firm,” says Troy Romero, managing shareholder of RP.

Next time you call the firm’s Pacific Northwest office, be sure to say hello.

Welcome aboard!

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Romero Park & Wiggins P.S. becomes Romero Park P.S.

We are proud to announce that as of May 2012, Romero Park & Wiggins P.S. has officially become Romero Park P.S. This name change reflects our recent departure of long-time friend a colleague, Michael Wiggins as he pursues other ventures. Michael has been a partner since 2006.

For further details about this change, please read the open letter from the firm’s managing partner, H. Troy Romero, posted on our blog. Also, please note that the firm’s e-mail address has changed consistent with the name change. From now on the firm’s e-mail address will be romeropark.com instead of rpwfirm.com. So, for instance, if you would like to contact Troy Romero by e-mail, you should now use the address tromero@romeropark.com. In order to provide our current and future clients with enough time to adjust to the firm’s name change, the firm has retained the rpwfirm.com address for approximately a year. Within that time, Romero Park P.S. attorneys and employees will be able to receive e-mails sent to that old address. We appreciate your patience as we undergo this change, and you can be assured that we will continue to provide the same quality legal services you have come to expect during this transition.

Thank you for continuing to stick with us through the years! We would not be who we are today without our clients.

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CLIENT SPOTLIGHT –XNERGY, INC.

We are pleased to highlight in this edition our client, Xnergy, Inc. Xnergy serves clients from all industries throughout Southern California. Some of the businesses that have seen the most value from working with Xnergy include critical, high-technology organizations from the biotech, medical device manufacturing, and semiconductor industries. Xnergy provides a single source for project management, planning, design, engineering, preconstruction services, construction, commissioning, and service and maintenance.

Xnergy has always been a leader in the sustainability, energy management and alternative energy fields. It has provided energy auditing services and implemented self-generating energy plants since its inception. Xnergy was the #1 Alternative Energy provider in the greater San Diego area in 2006 according to the San Diego Business Journal and continues to be at the forefront of the everchanging sustainability and green-build movement. If you would like more information on Xnergy please email them at info@xnergy.com or visit them on the web at www.xnergy.com.

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THINKING OUTSIDE THE BOX!

Most people, including most lawyers, think of litigation simply as the adjudicating of a particular dispute before a judge (or some other authority) by applying the law to the facts of that dispute.

While many times that is true, more often it is not. Many business owners, again including lawyers, fail to recognize that the majority of commercial and business disputes arise in the context of larger, more broadly-defined relationships, transactions or economic/social environments. For these business owners, litigation has a way of narrowing their field of vision to that which is directly in front of them – the lawsuit with which they are faced.

Indeed, litigation has a way of giving people “tunnel vision.” As a natural result of lawsuit-induced “tunnel vision,” many business owners spend little or no time at all thinking about the context in which their disputes have arisen. They fail to consider how facts, issues and circumstances that fall outside the specific subject matter of their disputes might affect, either negatively or positively, the outcome of those specific disputes. Using business jargon, these business people are unable to “think outside the box.” Let me give you a simple example of thinking outside the box. Let’s say that your start-up company has, like many businesses, tried to grow in today’s climate of limited capital funding. Because your company is burning through cash faster than you can generate or acquire it, you decide that you need to relocate your company’s offices to another, less expensive location. The problem is your company has 2-1/2 years left on its 5-year lease. To make matters more difficult, you personally guaranteed the lease in order to acquire the office space in the first place, which means that you’re personally on the hook for any rental deficiencies. This is an all too familiar situation.

Faced with the decision to stay and continue hemorrhaging, or vacate the premises and be on the hook for the remaining value of the lease, you finally decide to close up shop and move. In the process, you let your landlord know that you are abandoning the premises and moving. Although the landlord is very polite and professional as you inform him of your decision, two months later, as you anticipated, you are served with a lawsuit for breach of lease. Naturally and understandably, you freak out, compose yourself, and then call your attorney.

If served with such a lawsuit for breach of lease, the first thought that would come to most tenants’ minds would be, “My company cannot afford the accelerated rent! How do I get out of this?” While that would certainly be an understandable response, the best thing to do if faced with such a situation would be to inventory the facts and circumstances surrounding the lease dispute.

Doing so, you might soon realize that there is more to your dispute than a lease, a breach of that lease, and an accelerated amount of rent due.

Continuing on with our example, you inventory the potential externalities of your case (those things that are not directly related to the lawsuit but that could have an affect on its outcome) and you quickly recognize the following: 1) the local commercial real estate economy is extremely landlord-friendly; 2) you have had several business-customers who have recently commented on how much they like your space; and 3) you have an otherwise good working relationship, and an open line of communication, with the landlord.

Taking the above inventory can be beneficial for two reasons. First, the evidence that flows from the inventory can be used to establish that the landlord failed to mitigate its damages by finding a new tenant for the space your company abandoned. (The law requires that both residential and commercial landlords take reasonable steps to mitigate damages arising from an abandoned leasehold estate.) Second, the inventory could be used to establish a game plan and a timetable for negotiating a resolution to the dispute. In other words, for the specific example, it might make sense to do the following: 1) to approach your customers who commented favorably about your space to see if they would be interested in taking over the space entirely or at least subletting it; 2) to contact the landlord to let him know that you have some “potential tenants” that might be interested in taking over the space or at least subletting it, and recommend to the landlord that they follow up with those potential tenants; and 3) to remain in constant contact with the landlord to let him know about all that you are doing to replace yourself with another tenant, and to remind him about all he should be doing to find another tenant. (Remember, the landlord has a duty to mitigate its damages, which means that he is not permitted by law to simply lie on his haunches and collect damages!) As you can see, the inventory you take very well may allow you to approach a negotiated settlement from a position of greater strength or, if push comes to shove, mount a stronger defense at trial. Either option undoubtedly represents a better result than what might have appeared to be an insurmountable obstacle when you first received the landlord’s lawsuit.

Under the generally accepted principles of contract theory, parties to a contract are expected to and, many argue, should breach contracts when doing so would result in a more efficient flow of resources (e.g., time and money) and in the logical allocation of risk and reward. Applying this principle to our lease hypothetical, you as the tenant are not the only party with big decisions to make. The landlord, if he is smart, will recognize the same externalities and discount its claim by the possibility that he will be able to put a new tenant in your space at a rental rate commensurate with, perhaps, an increasingly favorable commercial real estate market. In other words, the landlord may have just as much incentive to get out of the lease as you do.

The lease hypothetical above is just one of many, many examples where it pays to inventory the circumstances surrounding a dispute in order to determine what externalities you might bring to bear in order to reach a more efficient, fiscally sensible resolution. As you conduct your business, you should constantly be looking for and identifying those issues, obligations, circumstances and factors that both directly and indirectly influence your business relationships and transactions.

For most business owners, identifying those issues, obligations, circumstances and factors is part of what they do on a day-to-day basis, so taking the time to do it is usually not a large investment of time. But no matter how much time it takes, most successful business owners are willing to put in the time because they understand that, in large part, their success in both peacetime and wartime comes from thinking creatively – thinking outside the box.

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REAL ESTATE DEALS – WHO’S ON YOUR SIDE?

We are regularly faced with situations where a client went through a real estate transaction asking intelligent, necessary questions to the professionals involved and receiving answers that put their fears to rest. Later, they find out that those answers did not reveal certain deficiencies in the transaction, and a lengthy process of unwinding and/or repairing the damage ensues. Many times this difficulty comes because the questions were asked to the wrong person.

The question is where can you go in a real estate transaction to get real, helpful answers to your questions? We submit to you that the way to answer that question is to know who has the best information regarding your question, and knowing who is your advocate.

Each of the professionals involved in your transaction is hired for a specific purpose. Within that purpose, they are the best sources of knowledge. Outside of that purpose, you must be aware of who is really looking out for your best interest as an advocate for you, and who is not. Knowing this information will help you ask questions to the people most likely to help you, and to understand answers from others by viewing them through the lens of that party’s position.

The professionals in a real estate transaction all have a very specific role, and that role defines what information they can and cannot provide to you. It is unfair to these professionals to put questions to them that are outside of their area, and which they may not have the knowledge to answer, or to which they may have an ethical obligation not to answer. You want every professional in your transaction doing their job as well as possible, and so it is important to know their roles and to respect them.

With that in mind, let’s examine each of the professionals in your transaction.

THE ESCROW OFFICER

Escrow officers are generally competent and helpful. But who do they represent? The answer is that, technically, escrow represents neither you nor the other party in the transaction, they represent the “money.” They are simply charged with impartially preparing the necessary paperwork to close the deal, and with transferring all the monies to the right place. They ethically cannot be an advocate for you without violating their role as escrow.

For that reason, it is important to know that the escrow officer is not equipped to answer much regarding your closing documents. They prepared their Settlement Statement based on figures provided by the parties. The deed is prepared using information from others as well. They do not prepare the loan documents.

What does this mean for you? It means that when you sit at the closing table signing documents, the person from the escrow office can tell you what a document is, but you should not and cannot rely on them to tell what a document means. So, asking the escrow officer whether a document accurately does what you want it to do is beyond their knowledge and their duty, and can be unfair to the escrow officer, who is usually trying to do their job as best they can. Most of the time, they will be helpful, but you should not rely on the statement of an escrow officer regarding the nature of any document.

TITLE INSURANCE

Another necessary, usually helpful, and knowledgeable party in your transaction is the agent of the Title Insurance Company. But what is their role? The Title Professional works for an insurance company that is issuing you a policy.

Their job is to accurately describe the title to the real estate so that you can be certain that you (or your buyer) are getting what you pay for. A good title professional will want to help you in this way. But be aware that the benefit to the title company of doing this job well is that it allows them to disclaim up front all the situations where they might have to pay a claim. Title insurers are writing a policy that they hope will ensure that they will never face a claim.

What does this mean for you? Usually only good things, as your title professional is motivated to be thorough in his/her search of title, which protects you from unseen issues. But knowing that they are not signed on to work as your advocate means that any question you ask them will be answered from their position of ensuring that no claim against the insurance will result.

LOAN BROKER

Loan Brokers are critical to your transaction (especially if you are buying). Their job is to pair you with a lender (and a loan program) that is compatible with your situation and needs.

This is the limit of their involvement and knowledge. Many brokers have years of experience in real estate deals, and so can advise you on various issues based on that experience, but relying on your loan broker for advice outside of issues surrounding their loan is not a good idea. Such questions are unfair to the loan broker, as they are outside their knowledge.

Also important is the fact that loan brokers are working to bring you and a lender together, so they are not advocates for you or for the lender, just a facilitator. So the loan broker can tell you the about the words on the loan document, but not advise you on whether you should sign anything. What does this mean for you? Depend on your loan broker to find you a loan that is compatible with your financial condition, and ask them questions about that issue and the loan papers. They will be your best source for that information. But for the questions of the legal effect of loan documents, or the ultimate question of what is best for you, you should look to a party who is your advocate, not a facilitator between two parties.

INSPECTORS/SURVEYORS/ CONTRACTORS

These professionals are hired by you for a specific purpose. Be sure your questions to them fall within that purpose. Within their expertise, they are your best source of information. Rely on them for those issues, but not for others.

REAL ESTATE AGENT

Your agent is on your side. Their objective is to match you with a buyer or seller. The way a good agent does this is to make certain that everything in the transaction is going to happen in the way that you want it to happen. They will usually do their very best to guide you and to help you in any way they can.

Once again, it is important to know their limits. Agents are your advocate, but just like the other professionals in your transaction, their knowledge is limited to their training and experience. You know you have a good agent when they will answer questions (when they do not know the answer) with advice to talk to another professional (either one we have listed or someone else). A good agent knows that getting you in touch with the right person to answer your questions is the most likely way to get your transaction closed.

YOUR LAWYER

I am a lawyer, and so I am definitely biased in writing this article. But the fact is that your lawyer is usually the only professional involved in a transaction whose payment is not in some way conditioned on the transaction closing. That allows the lawyer a certain freedom to advise you of the legal effects of the decisions you are making. We can act as your advocate, keeping your best interest in mind at all times.

I am not advocating that you need a lawyer in every single real estate transaction. In fact, many transactions will proceed to closing with no attorneys involved, based on solid and wise information provided only by the professionals discussed above. But should a question arise in your transaction about the legal effect of the transaction or the overarching question of “should” you sign a document, we are equipped to answer that question.

We are proud of the relationships we have with real estate professionals. Many of our clients are such professionals. They do their jobs with integrity and a high level of skill. They deserve our respect and that means not only trusting them to do their jobs well, but understanding those jobs so that we do not put them in the uncomfortable position of dealing with issues that should be brought to someone else.

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SUCCESS — A NEW YEAR’S REFLECTION

2009 is here, and what can I say: 2008 was a tough year all the way around! Like most of you, we at Romero Park P.S. have spent a great deal of time over the past several weeks reflecting back on the previous year, trying to figure out what we, as a business, did right and what we can improve on. As we have gone through this process, one thing, one topic of conversation, has come up over and over again. That topic is you, our clients.

In my career, I’ve seen many businesses come, but I have seen many, many more go. I have watched as small mom-and-pop shops have accomplished feats far beyond their highest expectations. But on the sad, other side of that coin, I’ve seen first hand one hundred million dollar-a-year corporations fall by the wayside in the relative blink of an eye. Witnessing these stories of success and failure are the hundreds and hundreds of people that our firm has represented either directly or by way of the businesses they own or manage.

Ask any B-School professor or student and they will tell you that a successful business is defined by how well it maximizes profits. Well, that certainly leaves a lot of grey area now doesn’t it! How a business not only defines success but accomplishes it is as much a matter of preference and ethics as it is a matter of pseudo-scientific principles such as accounting, marketing, supply-chain management and so on and so forth. To see what I mean, pick up any business or financial newspaper, on any day of the week, and I almost guarantee that you will find yourself watching one company race along in the throes of prosperity while another one, seemingly doing the same fundamental things, bellows out its final breath of life. It has been this way ever since people began trading goods and services, and it is difficult in this day and age to find any commonality between successful businesses and unsuccessful ones. At the end of the day, you can analyze profit and loss statements, expense reports, marketing feedback and revenue models; but at best, that information will tell you only so much about how “successful” a company really is. There has to be something more than just “good numbers” and attractive looking pie charts.

As I drive home at the end of each day, and often as I fall asleep at night, I spend little to no time thinking about our firm’s marketing plans, recently-issued Supreme Court opinions or the various other matters related to the performance, profitability or administration of my business. (Although I spend a very significant amount of dedicated time thinking about those things.) If I am thinking about anything work related at all, it is limited to my clients and how I can best help them achieve their goals. Now, when I use the word clients, I don’t mean businesses. I mean the people, either personally or on behalf of the companies they own or run, to whom I dedicate my time, talents and effort. I mean the people who rely on me to help Northwest Office: 155 – 108th Avenue NE, Suite 202 Bellevue, WA 98004 Phone: (425) 450-5000 Facsimile: (425) 450-0728 E-mail: info@romeropark.com California Office: Excel Centre 17140 Bernardo Center Drive, Suite 206 San Diego, CA 92128 Phone: (858) 592-0065 E-mail: info@romeropark.com www.romeropark.com them solve their legal issues when they cannot solve those issues themselves. I mean people not businesses. Why do I make that distinction, you might ask? That’s easy. I make the distinction because it solidifies to me the import of what I do and the impact I can have on the lives of others. I make that distinction because, in my mind, I know that businesses don’t lose their jobs or livelihoods, people do. Businesses are not thrown out on the street when they cannot afford to pay their rent, people are. Businesses do not lie awake at night worrying about how they are going to pay their employees, put food on their tables or send their kids to college, people do. Business is nothing more than people and the relationships they develop, and that is why I make the distinction when I think about who I represent.

Through my experience in 2008 and all the years past, I’ve realized that a business is only as successful as the relationships of its owners and employees are strong. I know this to be true beyond a shadow of a doubt, and that is why I am especially grateful in this new year for all of the wonderful people that I have the privilege to call not only clients but friends. I’m grateful that I have a career that puts me in an ideal position to help others overcome what very well may be some of the most troubling and difficult times in their lives or in the lives of their companies. As you reflect on the year past, and begin to move forward into the year anew, I encourage you to pay special attention to fostering those relationships you and your business so heavily rely upon. As we here at RP have done that, we have become ever-increasingly grateful for all of you who have afforded us the opportunity to assist you in your legal affairs. Looking back at all of the relationships we have developed over the years with the people we serve, there is no doubt that Romero Park P.S. is truly successful! Thank you for being a part of our success.

We hope that, in 2009 and in the years to come, you and your company experience the same kind of success; and we sincerely hope that we can be a part of it.

To help us know what we are doing right and how we can improve, please take a moment to complete the Client Survey enclosed with this newsletter.

We very much appreciate and value your feedback.

Happy New Year!

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CLIENT PROFILE: CRAIG GAUDRY & ASSOCIATES of WINDERMERE REAL ESTATE

Las Vegas, it’s not, but you don’t have to be an expert in real estate to know that, like many other parts of the country, times have changed for the Puget Sound housing market. Although home prices continue to tick up at a safe, yet hardly robust rate, homes are staying on the market longer, lenders are tightening up their loan requirements, and builders, who two years ago could not build enough houses, are sitting on acres of improved land.

For the first time in a long time, it is neither a distinctly buyer’s nor seller’s market. As a home buyer or seller, that means that you need to have the best real estate agent in your corner to ensure that you get the most exposure and the most value for your money. Craig Gaudry of Craig Gaudry and Associates is the agent you want representing you in the purchase or sale of your home.

Having had over $30 million in sales last year alone, Craig was ranked in the Top 1% of Real Estate Agents on a national level. Craig was also included in Who’s Who in Residential Real Estate in North America. Backed by his Business Development Manager, Cameron Snyder, and his Listing and Office Coordinator, Scott Horton, Craig takes a straightforward and honest approach in achieving his client’s goals. As a result, they appreciate his easy-going style and trust his expertise and superior knowledge of the local real estate market.

Craig Gaudry and Associates has been RP’s valued client for many, many years now, and has even represented some of the firm’s owners in purchasing their own homes. RP&W shares with Craig the same ideals and principles that have made him and his company such a huge success, and that is why we are pleased and honored to represent Craig and his company’s business interests. If you are in the market to buy or sell your home, please feel free to contact Craig Gaudry and Associates at 425-576-5555, or email him at craig@gaudry.com.

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