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City considering law firm over new, in-house attorney

FRANKLIN

Franklin’s City Council is considering retaining the services of an external law firm rather than hiring a new, full-time city attorney.

The city had issued a request for proposals for legal services on Aug. 27, which had specified that proposals were due no later than Sept. 12 at 2 p.m. According to City Manager Amanda Jarratt, the city received proposals from four law firms, from which the Council selected two for interviews.

According to the RFP, the contract for legal services will be for a term of one year, and may be renewed for two additional years solely at the city’s discretion. The firm the city chooses will be responsible for sending an attorney to all City Council and Franklin City School Board meetings to advise each body on agenda matters and procedural matters that arise at each meeting, as well as other legal services.

When asked why Council had chosen to seek an external law firm rather than hire a new, full-time, in-house attorney, Jarratt said seeking proposals from firms had been the Council’s first choice.

“This does not preclude them from deciding to advertise for full-time, in-house counsel at any point in the future,” she said.

The RFP had stated that a decision by Council was to have been made by Sept. 20. However, Jarratt said interviews with the two firms were delayed to Oct. 18 due to scheduling issues. The Council then discussed the matter again in a work session prior to its Oct. 28 meeting, the city manager added.

“A decision by Franklin City Council will be forthcoming,” she said.

The City Council had ended its contract with its previous city attorney, H. Taylor Williams IV, during a special called meeting in August. Details regarding the reasons for the Council’s decision to separate from its contract with Williams were sparse, with Mayor Frank Rabil only stating that the personnel matter had been discussed in closed session. Jarratt had also confirmed to the newspaper at that time that Williams’ separation was “effective immediately.”

In the time since Williams’ departure, the city has used “a variety of avenues” for obtaining legal counsel, Jarratt said.