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Atlanta City Council Approves Legislation Requiring Quarterly Report on the Use of Outside Counsel Services and General Operations of the City’s Law Department

Post Date:06/21/2018

News Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Council Communications
Atlanta City Hall
55 Trinity Avenue SW, Suite 2551
Atlanta, Georgia 30303 

CONTACT:
Dexter Chambers
Director, Office of Communications
Office: (404) 330-6309 / Cell: (404) 392-0159
Email: dchambers@atlantaga.gov 

June 21, 2018

Atlanta City Council Approves Legislation Requiring Quarterly Report on the Use of Outside Counsel Services and General Operations of the City’s Law Department 

 ATLANTA – The Atlanta City Council approved legislation requiring the city attorney to prepare and present a quarterly report to the Public Safety and Legal Administration Committee concerning the general operations of the city’s law department, its use of any outside counsel services, and the filing of/results of any recovery efforts on behalf of the city. (Legislative Reference No. 18-O-1179)

The legislation requires City Council authorization when the service fee of said outside counsel exceeds $50,000 within a fiscal year.

“I was pleased to work with my colleagues on Council, as well as the Law Department, on this important legislation,” said Councilmember Dustin Hillis, the sponsor of the bill. “It will bring more transparency, oversight and accountability to the retention of outside counsel.” 

The legislation also requires that the city attorney seek and receive authorization from the Atlanta City Council prior to filing affirmative litigation in the name of the city as the plaintiff.

In addition, the legislation declares that no provision of the city of Atlanta Code of Ordinances related to the Department of Law shall act as an automatic waiver of the Georgia Open Meetings Act or a waiver of the attorney-client privilege.

“Our law department has dual reporting responsibilities to both the executive and legislative branches of the city,” said City Council President Felicia Moore. “I originally authored this legislation because I strongly believe that we must be open with our citizens on how their tax dollars are being spent, even with legal matters related to the city of Atlanta.”

“As the legislative branch of the city, we have a fiduciary responsibility to the city and the authority to authorize outside counsel appropriations for the law department. I learned through news reports of the amount of spending that had occurred for legal assistance under the previous administration, and it truly alarmed me. Those amounts too often only come to light during our preparations and briefings for the next year’s budget,” Moore said.

The legislation requires that the quarterly report details whether the type of work performed by outside counsel is a civil, criminal, or transactional matter. It must also include a brief description of the subject matter. 

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