Who are they working for?
You may find this odd, but lawyers who act for municipalities sometimes ask themselves, “Who is my client?” This question is one that is, and should be, asked by both in-house municipal counsel and by members of the private bar who are retained by municipalities to provide legal services, either in the role of ‘municipal solicitor’ or on a one-off matter. … The lawyer’s duty is to act in the best interest of the municipality.
Isn’t a town solicitor legally (and ethically) bound to ensure that his advice to a Mayor and Council and City Manager preserves the legality of actions of the municipality? We think so.
Council only acts as a body. The lawyer who acts for the municipality cannot have a separate lawyer-client relationship with any individual Council member or group of Council members in respect of matters related to the municipality…
The City Solicitor cannot ordinarily represent the Mayor or City Manager or City Council in cases based on actions which are outside the scope of their duties and powers, such as criminal acts, intentional torts, libels or slander, violations of the open meetings law, sexual harassment and so forth. Public officials who engage in such activities are obliged to provide their own defense at their own expense, unless there is legislative authorization providing otherwise.
Spot the shot.