CLINTON — In the search to fill its city attorney void, Clinton knows to an extent what it will get from Frey, Haufe and Current, P.L.C. The firm has served as the city's interim legal counsel since January, and has worked closely with the city council on matters like drainage districts and finalizing particulars of the Lincolnway Industrial Rail Park.
The big question facing FHC during legal services interviews on Tuesday was: will current legal obligations create conflicts of interest down the road? John Frey was up front with the council.
"Absolutely," Frey said. "In situations where its adversarial, we're going to have to tell our clients to look someplace else. We're also sometimes going to have to tell the city they have to hire someone else to deal with that particular matter."
He added later: "Conflict of interest is probably the most significant issue you have to look at when you look at our firm."
This isn't a new issue for the firm. Prior to assuming the role as interim counsel, Frey made city leaders aware of potential obstacles with current clients. Those parties waived claims of conflict of interest, allowing FHC to serve the city in its current role.
But if the city opts for FHC over competing law firm Lynch Dallas (of Cedar Rapids), Frey said Clinton may need to hire "backup counsel" for matters down the road.
Otherwise, Frey painted a picture of local people working for Clinton already committed to helping the city grow. Since the 1980s, himself, Randy Current and Steven Haufe have devoted time not only to the law practice but to community events. Frey even had a tenure on the city council.
It's not the role of an attorney to create policy, Frey said. But the legal advice provided by a contracted service is nonetheless valuable for all municipalities.