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Viewing Your Municipal Attorney As Your Strategic Partner


Private companies have long since used lawyers as advocates, counselors, and strategic partners in all aspects of the business. It is typical….expected.  Municipalities, particularly small to midsize governments are slower to embrace the full breadth of the support an attorney can provide.  There may be a number of reasons for this, including cost and the perspective that a government is not a business, does not have a profit motive, and is often run by elected individuals from the community with varying experiences.  When a municipality has a strong supporting legal team, it is much less likely to encounter serious legal issues that result in litigation and much more likely to have successful projects. Here, the Pittsburgh employment law attorneys want to discuss some important points to keep in mind if your municipality is seeking new counsel.

You And Your Municipal Attorney Are On The Same Team

A Pittsburgh municipal law attorney is certainly your ally, though many municipalities think of legal teams as getting in the way of getting things done. It is the job of a municipal attorney to protect the municipality by identifying any potential legal problems and assisting the government agency in exercising their powers in a lawful manner.

If you have specific goals, your legal advisors can help you achieve them, and through means that are efficient and lawful.  It is better to identify legal hurdles earlier in the process of working on a project to assure a sustainable outcome.

Remember Who The “Client” Is

All municipal officials need to remember exactly who is the client of a municipal attorney–the municipality. The attorney of a municipality cannot act as legal counsel for individual officials or employees of the municipality outside of the scope of their official duties defined in the authorizing statute. This is important to keep in mind when requesting legal work, considering the advice, and conveying confidence.

Involve A Municipal Attorney Early

It is critical that municipalities involve their attorneys as early as possible when they think they may need legal assistance. Early involvement of your legal team saves money, time, and resources.  Legal advice is necessary whenever municipalities are required to follow specific procedures in order to exercise their powers (i.e. annexing property, creating tax increment finance districts, razing buildings, zoning issues, employee disputes, contracts, imposing special assessments or impact fees, revocation of licenses, etc.).  Your lawyer can also help to strategize with you in planning projects, such as streets, hiring, and economic development.

One Size Does Not Fit All

Gone are the days when one attorney can or should do it all.  Your solicitor, the point person in the legal life of the municipality, is your advisor for when a specific area stretches beyond her skill set.  Your solicitor should be able to direct you to a lawyer with an emphasis on a specific subject area and coordinate the use of those additional skills.  It is not unusual, or a negative reflection on your solicitor, if you have a number of legal advisors that you rely on.

Call Neva Stotler Law For A Review Of Your Situation Today

If you are a small to mid-sized public or private entity anywhere in the Pittsburgh area and you require in-house legal assistance, contact Neva Stotler Law today. Attorney Stotler has extensive experience helping clients handle a range of legal issues that they may face in their everyday operations. A municipal attorney is a valuable part of any municipal team throughout Pennsylvania and will understand how municipalities interact with one another as well as with the Commonwealth as a whole. You can contact us for a consultation of your case by clicking here or calling 724-841-5565.

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