Special Counsel to Local Government

When a local government or its attorney decides that outside legal expertise is needed, we are the firm that is often called upon to render special counsel services.  In these situations, usually involving sensitive and important matters, we are available to serve as a legal resource to work in conjunction with the local government’s general counsel or to take direct responsibility to handle a specific legal issue as special counsel.    We understand intimately how local government works, and we are exceedingly respectful of our limited role working on the assigned matter.

As well-considered and experienced attorneys for local governments, our attorneys have experience in all facets of local government law including ethics, labor and employment, constitutional law, code enforcement, contraband forfeitures, land use and zoning, public procurement and public works construction. 

We also draft ordinances and charter provisions for numerous cities, creating their municipal election structures and procedures, from single member district systems, to at-large council elections to hybrid systems with geographic residency requirements. We draft ballot questions for referendums and make sure our clients comply with the several Florida statutes governing municipal elections.  We are also proud to be a “go to” firm when it comes to election issues and strive to help the local government’s attorney make the right decisions.

We also have been retained to conduct internal investigations and report to a local government’s elected body and attorney concerning suspected ethics/charter violations, or crimes.

Local governments are faced with the growing trend toward voter-initiated efforts to curb the authority of local elected officials. We are ahead of the curve in helping our clients to respond and adapt. We ensure that our clients comply with applicable elections laws while being careful to avoid any intrusion into matters of partisan politics.

We write and revise municipal charters and review the legal sufficiency of charter amendment petitions, initiatives and referendum petitions to be submitted to municipal electors; we have successfully litigated those issues on several occasions. For example, our attorneys successfully defended the adoption of an entire new charter for the City of Homestead. We also successfully challenged a State-initiated referendum that would have amended the State constitution to drastically alter the State property tax structure.

As described in our Ethics and Election Law practice area sections, we also provide sound advice on government ethics. We advise elected and appointed officials on ethics matters including voting abstention requirements and non-participation requirements, avoiding of conflicts of interest in contracts and other transactional matters, and we provide counsel concerning city, county and State ethics guidelines.

We are frequently called upon to defend local officials and private individuals and entities in ethics matters and investigations before State and local ethics commissions. Several local governments have adopted our model ordinance providing for the independent, but fiscally responsible, defense of local officials from ethics charges which arise in the course and scope of their official duties. We help clients avoid even the appearance of impropriety so that they may effectively lead.