The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

February 13, 2014

Law firm RFP moves forward

By Brenden West
Assistant Editor

CLINTON — City Administrator Jessica Kinser has been greenlighted by the Clinton City Council to seek contracted legal services to fill the city attorney void.

Kinser presented a request for proposal (RFP) draft on Tuesday during the Committee of the Whole meeting, specifying the council will open bidding from law firms wishing to enter contracts with the city. Proposals will be due on March 17 and they’ll be reviewed on March 25. City leaders plan to finalize a list of law firm candidates and conduct a series of interviews between March 30 and April 3.

By April 22, Clinton hopes to employ a contracted legal service. This will begin a new era for the city as it will fill its attorney void without hiring a full-time employee.

“I’m looking at people that have responsibilities for more than just one city,” Kinser said. “It’s really hard to speculate, at this point, what that number (of responses) will look like.”

Although she released a detailed RFP draft, Kinser said the council still needs to decide if the law firm it hires will fulfill all legal duties. Item K of the RFP draft states law firms would be asked to prosecute offenders.

However, Kinser has already reached out to Clinton County Attorney Mike Wolf with the possibility of dividing the new attorney roles between a prosecutor and a municipal firm. Such arrangements exist in similar Iowa cities to Clinton, such as Burlington and Marshalltown.

“I thought that this was an opportunity for us to partner with another taxing agency, which I think we should strive to do,” she said.

Kinser added Wolf was interested in possibly serving as prosecutor, but “only if this is a need that can’t be filled from the response we get from the RFP.”

Otherwise, duties fulfilled in the contract will be the same as those served by previous attorney Jeff Farwell. Farwell resigned from his services in December. Clinton contracted with local firm Frey, Haufe and Current, PLC, for limited engagement services in January.

City leaders approved Kinser’s draft, which stipulates the Internal Operations Committee will conduct the interviews, if necessary. Councilman Ed O’Neill suggested that if Clinton dwindles candidates down to fewer than five, the Committee of the Whole should review candidates for council approval.

Kinser released the draft to 17 law firms, some within Clinton, and some recommended by the Iowa League of Cities.