Our attorney is resigning this month. What qualifications will you look for in a new city attorney? What should his/her duties be? Should this person only give counsel to the city council, mayor and city manager or should the attorney be available to answer legal questions from the Planning Commission, BOZA and city employees and authorized city committees? Should the attorney be paid a salary or stipend each month OR should the attorney be paid at an hourly rate?

What qualifications will you look for in a new city attorney?

My Answer

Attorneys rely heavily upon their paralegals to research opinions and any other legal documents they produce. The city attorney attends our open meetings and if invited our executive sessions, where he/she may be presented with an issue he/she is not absolutely familiar with. If they don’t know, they can do the research and come back. The problem is when an illegal or questionable discussion comes up in an open meeting or executive session and he/she doesn’t stop the discussion.

  1. C.R.S. 31-4-208 The city council shall appoint a city attorney, who, upon taking office, shall be an attorney-at-law licensed to practice in the state of Colorado.  The city council shall also appoint a municipal judge in accordance with section 13-10-105(1), C.R.S .  The city attorney shall serve at the pleasure of the city council.  A municipal judge may be removed during his term of office only for cause, as provided in section 13-10-105(2), C.R.S .

  2. I would prefer a city attorney trained and specializing in municipal law. They should at least have experience as a city attorney. Generalists tend to have too much other business to pay attention to the city.

  3. Florence is a statutory city, and we are regulated under the provisions of Title 31 of the Colorado Revised Statutes. Our new city attorney must have more than a familiarity with Title 31.

  4. The Colorado Open Meetings Law can be a minefield when it comes to executive sessions.  The attorney needs to approve the reason for the executive session and draft the motion to move to executive session.

What should his/her duties be? Should this person only give counsel to the city council, mayor and city manager or should the attorney be available to answer legal questions from the Planning Commission, BOZA and city employees and authorized city committees?

MyAnswer

  1. Attend all council meetings unless excused.

  2. The City Attorney Should be responsible for but not limited to drafting city ordinances, motions for executive sessions, providing legal advice to council.

  3. The city attorney should be available to provide legal advice to all city departments. An employee should direct employment questions to HR. At a typical wage of $250.00/hour, the city attorney should not be our HR department.

  4. Responding to questions from council and department heads in a timely manner.

Should the attorney be paid a salary or stipend each month OR should the attorney be paid at an hourly rate?

My Answer

  1. I believe the city attorney should be paid an hourly rate.