Sunday, April 9, 2017

Sunday, April 9th

My cousin, Trish, love her, mentioned on Facebook that it seems like we are always playing and not working! So I thought I would explain my work here, in case anyone is interested about it.  (I forgive you, if you are not!!! It's not that exciting, although I find it challenging enough to learn how to practice law when I am working with attorneys (6 others) who likely have about 150 years of practice experience between them.)

We work in a building in northwest Moscow, in an area called Kragsnogorsk, next door to the Crocus City and Vegas malls (yes, two malls connected to each other). It is across the street from the Moscow Oblast (county) buildings in which hundreds of people enter daily.  On the other side of their building is the Moscow River, which freezes completely in winter and people ice fish on it when it is not too cold.  I describe all this because my desk overlooks all of it and I love the view through my window!

The church owns two floors of the Kubik building.  The Office of General Counsel is on the 10th floor; Real Estate and Physical Facilities, Publishing, and computer services are all on the 9th floor. Russ has a cubicle on the 10th floor on the opposite side of where my office is in the the OGC. We take the Metro to work, and a bus up a steep hill, to the office each day.  We work all morning, go to lunch together, work all afternoon and go home together. I have a series of committee meetings to attend as well as a weekly staff meeting.  My colleagues in the OGC are hard-working, smart people who are willing to teach me the ropes of practicing law.  Since Russ' work is phone-based, he is able to work at home if and when he needs to, but I need to be in the office as much as possible.

I am responsible mainly for two areas of work.  Real estate leases of meetinghouses, mission homes for mission presidents and their families, and mission offices or any other facilities.  At first I did this in the Europe East Area outside of Russia, and one of my colleagues took care of all of the Russian real estate work.  Now I am being given some work in Russia too.  I am also responsible to track the registration of religious organizations in Ukraine and Russia, as this is required by the governments of those two countries. It is a detailed process that requires tracking of creation, registration, and reporting of them to the government by the end of this year.

This is how my real estate work goes:
1) Someone in real estate or physical facilities sends me a request for OGC (Office of General Counsel) review of contracts for leases or service agreements relating to the real estate;
2) I review the request, determine which law firm who works for us as outside counsel, and send them a request for work, cost, and timing of the matter;
3) I watch over the process as the attorneys and RE/PF people work out the details of an agreement, and then review it to make sure it conforms to church policy and protects the church;
4) Lastly, I give the OGC approval and the RE/PF people get the agreements signed and notarized and registered with the appropriate governments, and then I post them on our internal programs that track these matters so that future attorneys will see a complete history of them.

Not sure if that's very exciting, but that's what I do.  I get to know attorneys in all the countries I am dealing with, and am able to become somewhat familiar with the laws of those lands, mostly implicitly because in reviewing the agreements, I can see what is required in those countries.

An interesting difference between the US and other countries, at least the ones I have worked with, there is no title insurance industry.  Every agreement involves verifying that the person representing him/herself as the legal owner of the property actually has the legal right to enter into a contract.

Also notary public's do not always exist in other countries.  Work often done in the US through notaries is often done by attorneys here and other legal research needed requires a power of attorney to seek government or otherwise protected documents. Many of these procedures cause the work to take much longer than one might be used to.  My job is to monitor the progression of the work, help to facilitate its completion, and minimize the cost of it.

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