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North Hempstead Town seeks bids for outside law firms

North Hempstead Town officials say they are reviewing

North Hempstead Town officials say they are reviewing their roster of outside counsel. Credit: Newsday / William Perlman

North Hempstead Town is reviewing its outside legal counsel and is seeking proposals from law firms to represent the town.

The town recently issued a request for proposals to establish a “panel of stand-by counsel” that it will consult as needed, according to the document.

Town spokeswoman Carole Trottere said that the existing roster of law firms was selected four years ago and that it was time to “take a fresh look.”

In 2017, the town attorney’s office spent about $63,000 on outside counsel. That year, it also spent $913,183 for department staff salaries.

This year’s dedicated outside counsel budget cannot be determined because it is folded into the broader category of professional services, which also includes payment for insurance advisers and expert witnesses, Trottere said. The town has budgeted $180,000 for professional services this year, a $30,000 decrease from the amount allocated for the previous year.

Trottere said that the town attorney’s office has been handling a broader range of litigation. Its staff are encouraged to get admitted to federal court to represent the town. The town attorney’s office now also oversees labor matters, such as employee arbitrations and discrimination cases.

Previously, outside firms were enlisted for many of those cases, Trottere added.

“Just because firms are on the list it does not mean that these firms were actually retained to perform work for the town. We actually do a lot more in-house now,” Trottere added.

The town currently relies on a list of 13 law firms across the state. Among the firms is Uniondale-based Harris Beach. Newsday previously reported that the law firm was involved in transactions in Oyster Bay that led to federal charges against former Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano and former Oyster Bay Supervisor John Venditto.

Harris Beach remains counsel on litigation involving the Roslyn Country Club and the town. It will stay on the panel if it submits a “good proposal,” Trottere said.

Bids are due Feb. 27.

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