By Harry Gatjens
By a unanimous vote, the Edmonds City Council at a special meeting Thursday approved the contract with new City Attorney The Lighthouse Law Group. Originally scheduled for approval at Tuesday’s regular council meeting, the decision was delayed while concerns of several councilmembers were addressed.
Items that were revised from the contract originally proposed on Tuesday were:
1. Professional Liability Insurance. The contract calls for $2 million in professional liability insurance. At Tuesday’s meeting, Councilmember D.J. Wilson mentioned that the prior attorney carried $10 million, and asked about the change. It was pointed out that the request for qualifications that the city sent to all firms did ask for for $2 million, but some councilmembers said they wanted $10 million in liability insurance nonetheless. As a result, the contract was initially changed to require $10 million, but not until 2013. However, at tonight’s meeting, the council decided to change it back to $2 million. (The link to the contract below shows the previous amount of $10 million.) It should be noted that the higher limit that the former City Attorney Ogden Murphy Wallace had in place applied to their clients in the medical field, not the City of Edmonds, and that the standard for municipal clients is $2 million.
2. Fee adjustments. The original contract called for Lighthouse to be able request at the end of each year that their fee be adjusted for the upcoming year. In addition, there was no cap and the contract called for Lighthouse to go to an hourly billing in the event that a new fee was not agreed to. Concerns were expressed that one reason for the change was to save money by hiring a firm that was charging a reduced fixed fee and if that were subject to renegotiation after one year, the savings could disappear almost overnight. The contract as shown in the link below states that the fee can’t be renegotiated until 2013, giving the City at least two years of assured pricing. Note, however, that in an even later revision of the contract Thursday morning, The Lighthouse Law Group agreed to no price changes throughout the four-year term. The price will be $32,000 monthly through 2014.
3. Termination. The original contract allowed either party to cancel the contract with 6o days written notice. The revised contract gives only the city that right.
Beyond those major points, there were just a few typographical corrections made. For a view of the contract, go to the link here. The changes are highlighted in red.