The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

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April 23, 2014

New legal services agreement proceeds

CLINTON – By one vote, the Clinton City Council voted for Lynch Dallas over local firm Frey, Haufe and Current as its next city attorney service. On Tuesday, in a show of solidarity, the council was unanimous, officially hiring the Cedar Rapids group.

“For better or for worse, this is a position that will report directly to us,” Councilman John Rowland said. “I think it’s important that we rally around the position and establish a working relationship right from the start.”

Now, as the city transitions into its first contracted legal services agreement, work remains for both sides to feel out the arrangement. Lynch Dallas will officially begin on May 1, giving lead attorney Pat O’Connell time to catch up on Clinton’s current standing. On the city’s end, City Administrator Jessica Kinser informed the council that ordinance changes and another request for proposals loom.

Formally or informally, the council must also decide how it wishes to keep in touch with O’Connell and others.

“Ultimately this is something for you to all be on the same page about,” Kinser said. The council decided to wait for the first billing cycle to see if a policy is needed. “I think it’s important that you as a body have an idea of how this relationship is going to work.”

Unlike the previous salaried arrangement, vacated by Jeff Farwell in December, the new “legal services” agreement means that Lynch Dallas will be paid a wage when handling Clinton’s affairs. The firm agreed to a $135 hourly rate for senior associates, though smaller tasks can be handled by people lower on the payscale for as little as $85 per hour.

Since Lynch Dallas attorneys aren’t city employees, this means most time spent corresponding between both sides will be billed to Clinton. For the sake of communication, O’Connell and Kinser recommended the city establish a liaison to minimize costs.

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