rise to every challenge
Lerch Early’s litigation team helps businesses, including nonprofits, and individuals resolve disputes throughout the Washington, DC metropolitan area. Clients quoted in leading international legal directory Chambers USA s describe our team as “outstanding,” describing our attorneys as “very responsive,” and saying that we “give common sense advice, and provide good strategy."
We champion the interests of corporations as plaintiffs and defendants in complex commercial disputes. These include companies ranging from local family businesses to national and international corporations, as well as real estate owners and investors, professional service providers, and nonprofits around the Beltway, Lerch Early attorneys are skilled at negotiating, trying, and handling appeals of employment claims, contract disputes, real estate controversies and commercial issues.
In addition, we represent companies and corporate executives, professionals, and other individuals in professional responsibility and white collar criminal matters, from grand jury and administrative investigations through final appeal, if necessary.
People come to us for our extensive knowledge of and familiarity with the circuit and district courts, both state and federal, particularly in Montgomery County, suburban Maryland, Washington, DC, and the Virginia suburbs. Once they work with us, our clients appreciate how we take every matter personally, look out for all of their interests, and keep them fully informed and supported along the way. “I’m crazy about the lawyers I work with,” said one client to Chambers USA. “I think they’re phenomenal, terrific people.” Lerch Early clients always know where their cases stand, and they understand the challenges and decisions that lie ahead, confident that they are partnered with an experienced team invested in their success.
Lauri E. Cleary
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints faced an unexpected property tax assessment when the Maryland Tax Court ruled that a Montgomery County apartment complex where it housed religious workers no longer qualified for the property tax exemption it had held for nearly 30 years.
The Tax Court adopted the state’s narrow (and arguably discriminatory) definitional approach that excluded the purposes for which the client church’s properties were being used to deny the exemption. We demonstrated to the Montgomery County Circuit Court and then to the Maryland Court of Appeals that the apartment complex qualifies as a “convent,” because the church uses the properties exclusively to house a community of people who live together, follow strict religious vows, and devote themselves full-time to religious work, thus meeting the statutory definition and avoiding discrimination in favor of particular denominations allowing only “nuns” to live in properties called “convents” as a doctrinal matter.
The Maryland Court of Appeals upheld and reinstated our client’s tax exemption. This allowed the church to continue housing visiting religious workers who leave their homes and families to devote themselves to a two-year commitment to ministry in the temple.
The architectural and environmental control committee of a Lerch Early homeowners association client approved construction of a fence. A neighbor challenged the approval before the association’s board of directors, which upheld the committee’s approval. The neighbor then filed a complaint before the Montgomery County Commission on Common Ownership Communities.
Lerch Early demonstrated that the association acted properly and the board of directors rendered its decision without fraud or bad faith. We asked that the CCOC abide by the business judgment rule, by which a court will not interfere in the internal affairs of a corporation, absent fraud or bad faith.
The CCOC ruled that the association had the discretion on how and to what extent to enforce its rules and dismissed the complaint.
Our clients’ father passed away and the executor of his large estate (our clients’ cousin, the nephew of the deceased) had paid himself several hundreds of thousands of dollars in commissions, even though he had performed only a series of ministerial tasks in his role as executor. Maryland statutory law permits executors to take a fixed percentage of the estate as compensation for their services, just as the executor in this case had done.
In a case of first impression, Lerch Early convinced a three-judge panel of the Orphans Court for Anne Arundel County that in this case, the executor’s fees were excessive, even though they were within the percentage allowed by statute, because it would have resulted in a windfall for the executor.
Accepting our argument that being named executor should not be a “lottery ticket” in a large but uncomplicated estate, the Orphans’ Court required the executor to return $100,000 in excess compensation to the estate for distribution to our clients, the beneficiaries.