Saturday, May 10, 2008

City Council Hires Own Lawyers

Posted By on Sat, May 10, 2008 at 7:25 PM

By: Clancy Dubos

The New Orleans City Council, in a rebuff of the Nagin Administration and its city attorney’s office, has hired the local law firm of Herman, Herman, Katz & Cotlar to be the council’s legal advisor. The firm is well known in plaintiff law circles, having played a major role in class action suits, including the recent $4.85 billion settlement of Vioxx cases.

Firm partner Russ Herman once served as national president of a trial lawyers group. Steven J. Lane, 53, managing partner at the firm, will lead the team assigned to the council. Among the topics he and his associates will be asked to dissect are housing and homelessness — and any potential squabbles with Mayor Ray Nagin, whose administration has been accused of stonewalling council inquiries into various contracts. Past councils have retained legal counsel for specific purposes, but this move marks the first time that council members hired attorneys on a full-time basis. It signals a more contentious round of dealings with the mayor in the months to come. The firm’s annual fee has been estimated at $150,000. 

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