Municipal Law

The firm’s Municipal Law Group specializes in the legal representation of municipalities and their respective authorities throughout the jurisdictions we reside in and beyond. Our attorneys are experienced at handling all legal matters for municipalities and their respective authorities serve the firm’s municipal clients. The Firm's attorneys have represented over 200 municipalities and school districts as general counsel, special counsel or bond counsel.

Clark Hill’s municipal attorneys do not serve in a manner typical of outside counsel. They understand that, under many city charters, as a “city attorney” they often serve as “officers” of the city. While they are legal advisers, they also become part of a “team” to fully inform the city council, city officers and other city bodies of legally available options, of legal impacts and consequences, of risk assessments, etc., but, once the policy direction is given and decision made, they serve as part of that team to help implement that enunciated policy or decision.

Clark Hill’s attorneys offer, not only the experience and expertise gained over decades of public sector law practice, but also the significant resources of Clark Hill’s other specialties, cutting edge practice technology, and an array of other resources. While not always offering the lowest available hourly rate, Clark Hill’s experience, expertise and resources result in more cost-effectiveness and more timeliness. Where other lawyers might expend hours in researching a question or in finding a suitable “pattern” to follow in a transaction, our attorneys can often answer a question over the phone and have vast data bases to use to address a particular issue or transaction.

Our attorneys identify with our clients, seeking ways to assure not only their legal needs, but their policy goals and objectives are met. We understand municipal law is about community improvement, about service to the community’s residents and taxpayers, and about cost-effective and timely results.

Municipal Law & Municipal Finance

The Firm’s municipal finance group (a sub-group of the Education and Municipal Law Practice Group) assists our municipal clients with the legal aspects of their financial and borrowing needs. Members of the Municipal Finance Group regularly serve as bond counsel to municipalities. The Firm is identified in the Bond Buyer’s Municipal Marketplace as “Recognized Bond Counsel”, the Firm is approved as bond counsel to Rural Development, and our attorneys are members of the National Association of Bond Lawyers.

The Firm has extensive experience in all aspects of the issuance of tax-exempt debt by municipalities. In this regard, the Firm has comprehensive knowledge of federal and state laws that govern the issuance of tax-exempt debt. In addition, the Firm has a thorough knowledge of the federal and state law requirements for structuring municipal bond debt as well as state and local election laws. The Firm has a wealth of experience in drafting all legal documents relating to the issuance of tax-exempt debt.

Our attorneys have acted as bond counsel in a large number of tax exempt bond transactions across the United States. We have extensive expertise with many types of bond transactions including, unlimited tax general obligation bonds, revenue bonds, tax increment bonds for DDAs, LDFAs TIFAs and Brownfield Authorities, special assessment bonds, bonds issued by various authorities and refunding bonds. In particular, we have been bond counsel in the issuance of numerous bonds to finance the construction of water and sewer improvements.

Specifically, the Firm’s attorneys also have extensive experience with the borrowing process under the Rural Development Program. We have a very strong working relationship with the Rural Development officials, and an in depth understanding of the Rural Development Program, its requirements and structure for bond issues. This experience includes experience in handling financing projects for water and sewer systems through revenue bonds and other types of bond issues. We believe that these relationships, which we have developed over the years, allow us to provide a level of representation that might not be available from other law firms that do not regularly practice in this area.

Authorities and Other Entities

Clark Hill serves as general counsel of numerous other governmental and inter-governmental entities including brownfield redevelopment authorities, downtown development authorities, economic development corporations, fire and other emergency services boards and authorities, libraries, local development finance authorities, sanitary sewer authorities, tax increment financing authorities, utility authorities, water authorities, etc. It also provides specialized legal services to a number of such entities.

Experience

Served as Assistant Allegheny County solicitor (1982-86).
Solicitor to The Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority (2008-present).
Co-Solicitor to the Allegheny County Airport Authority (May 2012-present).
Co-Solicitor to the Allegheny County Industrial Development Authority, the Allegheny County Hospital Development Authority, the Allegheny County Higher Education Building Authority and the Allegheny County Residential Finance Authority.
Represented a county in connection with the sale and transfer of delinquent real estate tax receivables
Reviewed tax-exempt equipment leases on behalf of municipal entity-lessees
Served as solicitor to an industrial development authority and a water authority, rendering advice thereto on all matters including general contracts and procurement issues, rate matters, Sunshine and Ethics Acts, investment powers, project financing, and employee benefit matters
Lead counsel in three-year defense of municipality and its officers and employees in an unprecedented lawsuit filed by a scorned real estate developer seeking recovery in excess of $80 million based on an alleged conspiracy between elected officials, municipal staff and solicitor, and community members to deny land use approval for proposed construction
Authored the winning brief in the unanimously decided Pennsylvania Supreme Court case of Sphere Drake v. PGW, 782 A.2d 510 (Pa. 2001)
Devised and executed successful legal, lobbying, and media strategy to defeat powerful and vocal institutional and community support for grant of multi-million dollar government subsidy to client's direct competitor
Represented state agency in lawsuit involving application of public bidding laws
Special Counsel to a Pennsylvania County in connection with the renovation of the former County Jail, a national historic landmark, which was converted for use as a family court building
Represented various counties in connection with the sale of county nursing homes
Newsletter Alerts
Department of Labor Releases a Request for Information Seeking Public Comment on Overtime RegulationsNew Year, New President - How Will Employers Be Affected?IRS Publishes Final Issue Price Rules for Tax-Exempt Municipal Bond OfferingsThe Federal Securities Pay-to-Play Regulatory Framework is Complete - A Primer for Financial Services FirmsNew Laws Provide Clarification for Medical Marijuana Patients, Caregivers and Provisioning CentersOpen Meetings Act Update: "Informal Meetings;" Remote Participation 6th Circuit Upholds City's Right to Enforce Grass Ordinance Within Public Right-of-WayDecision by Supreme Court May Impact Local Sign RegulationsMichigan Public Bodies Must Post Their Revised FOIA Procedures on Their WebsiteIRS Issues Transitional Relief for Certain Employers Sponsoring Employer Payment PlansNew Amendment Presents Challenges to FOIA AdministrationMichigan Municipal Corporations Lose Statutory Protection in Adverse Possession and Acquiescence Actions Brought by Private PartiesFinal Regulations Issued on Excepted BenefitsPolice Officers and Firefighters Now Exempt From Public Act 54Sixth Circuit Upholds Michigan's Ban on Project Labor Agreements on Public ConstructionNew Requirements for Flags Used to Mark the Graves of VeteransProtective Claim for Refund for Over-Reported FICA Taxes Protective Claim for Refund for Over-Reported FICA Taxes on 3% Retiree Healthcare ContributionsFICA Taxes on 3% Retiree Healthcare ContributionsMERC & DOT Provide New Rulings on PA 152 ObligationsRecent Guidance Issued on PPACA and its Impact on Health Reimbursement Arrangements, Flexible Spending Accounts and Employee Assistance ProgramsMichigan Fireworks Safety Act AmendedMunicipal Law UpdatePatient-to-Patient Medical Marihuana Transfers IllegalLower Profile Lame Duck Legislative Actions and Inactions Affecting Public BodiesMunicipal Law NewsEmergency Manager LegislationPersonal Property Tax Legislation EnactedFederal Court Enjoins Michigan's Amended Project Labor Agreement StatuteOpenly Carried Weapons Allowed in District LibraryMunicipal Law Update Court of Appeals Strikes Zoning Ordinance Prohibiting Medical MarihuanaProject Labor Agreement Law ResurrectedMunicipal Law Update 2012 Public Act 143Land Use
News
Seventy-Four Clark Hill Attorneys Selected for Inclusion in the 2018 Edition of Best Lawyers in AmericaClark Hill Attorney Kenneth P. Lane to Present at the International Association of Electrical Inspectors Michigan Chapter 2017 Summer Educational Meeting June 15-16, 2017. Clark Hill Attorney Kenneth P. Lane Published in Michigan Municipal League “The Review” Magazine Clark Hill Announces Attorneys Elected to Membership, Promotions to Senior AttorneyAxe & Ecklund Joins Clark HillClark Hill PLC Receives National Tier 1 Ranking for Litigation – Construction in the 2016 Edition of U.S. News-Best Lawyers, “Best Law Firms”Sixty-Five Clark Hill Attorneys Named to Michigan Super Lawyers 2015 ListClark Hill PLC Receives National and Metropolitan Tier 1 Rankings in the 2016 Edition of Best Lawyers in America's “Best Law Firms”Sixty-Two Clark Hill Attorneys Selected for Inclusion in the 2016 Edition of Best Lawyers in AmericaExperienced Municipal Law Attorney Joseph W. Colaianne Joins Clark Hill’s Lansing Office Clark Hill Attorney Jenice Mitchell Ford to Present at the 29th Annual Advanced Institute March 24, 2015Clark Hill Attorney Jonathan Hugg Comments on New Police Contract in The Scranton Times-TribuneClark Hill attorney Jonathan Hugg quoted in The Scranton Times-Tribune article on city’s revised contract with police unionClark Hill PLC Attorney Jeremy S. Motz to Present on the “Fundamentals of School Purchasing” for the Michigan Institute for Educational Management on December 4 Clark Hill PLC Attorney Jeremy S. Motz Recently Presented “Development & Managing RFPs for School Purchasing” for the Michigan Institute for Educational Management on November 13Clark Hill Attorneys John L. Gierak and Daniel L. Eyer to Present to Macomb Human Resource Professionals on November 13, 2014 Channel 7/WXYZ Features Clark Hill Attorney Jenice Mitchell Ford on the Primary ElectionClark Hill Attorneys Dana L. Abrahams, James M. Crowley and Eric C. Griggs Author Articles in the Michigan Council of School Attorney’s Spring NewsletterClark Hill Attorney Reginald M. Turner to Present on Managing Retiree Health Benefits for the Michigan Public Employers Labor Relations Association March 7, 2014Clark Hill Attorney James M. Crowley to present at the Michigan Association of School Boards Annual Conference October 26, 2013Channel 7/WXYZ Features Clark Hill Attorney Jenice Mitchell Ford on the Detroit Primary ElectionClark Hill Attorney Mark Nowak Speaks at National Association of Clean Water Agencies Summer ConferenceClark Hill Attorney Jennifer Sackett Pohlenz to Present Real Estate Litigation: How to Handle a Building Code Violation Case; Bankruptcy in a Foreclosure; Tax AssessmentsClark Hill PLC Attorney Grant T. Pecor to Present at Michigan Association of Municipal Attorneys' Municipal Law Program, Thursday, Sept. 20Clark Hill PLC Attorney Mark W. McInerney Appointed Chair of United States Courts Committee of State Bar of MichiganClark Hill Attorneys James M. Crowley and Joseph B. Urban to Present on Emergency Manager Training in LansingAttorney Robert L. Schwartz Named in 2011 Edition of The Best Lawyers in AmericaClark Hill Attorneys Joseph E. Turner and Lucius A. Vassar Named to Michigan Chronicle’s 2010 Men of Excellence ListClark Hill Attorney Matthew T. Smith Appointed Commissioner to Planning Commission for the City of MasonClark Hill Attorney Douglas Kelly to Present at Road and Access Law Seminar November 12Clark Hill Attorneys Douglas R. Kelly and Matthew T. Smith to Present the National Business Institute’s “Step-by-Step Guide to Understanding Easements”Clark Hill Attorney Douglas Kelly to Present at Road and Access Law Seminar November 12