Law firm's services to city range from landfill to police discrimination

Brooks Pierce law firm and in particular partner George House have their hands in a lot of matters that affect public policy in the city of Greensboro as outside counsel.

From an Aug. 24 letter (link) from George House to interim City Attorney Tom Pollard outlining proposed terms and conditions of the law firm's representation:

We are pleased to provide you with an updated and consolidated engagement letter to continue to serve as legal counsel in assisting the city of Greensboro on various matters. There are four matters on which we are currently representing the city of Greensboro: 1) Assistance in responding to the complaint filed by certain citizens to the proposed reopening of the White Street Landfill and related permitting activities; 2) Assistance in analyzing options to the currently required city wastewater treatment plan and stormwater upgrades; 3) Assistance in defending Councilwoman Trudy Wade in the Alexander litigation; 4) Assistance in addressing miscellaneous environmental matters and questions.

For those who do not follow the minute, blow-by-blow details of who is suing the city of Greensboro day by day, "the Alexander litigation" refers to a pending federal lawsuit by 39 black Greensboro police officers that is currently before US District Judge Thomas D. Schroeder.

On the matter of billing, House explains,

I will be the attorney having primary responsibility for city matters. Our current hourly rates for the attorneys generally assisting me are set forth below, along with the discounted rate we currently offer the city. We rarely discount hourly rates, and these discounts are the largest we give. However, we believe we have a responsibility to assist the community in which we live.

According to the schedule provided in the letter, House is the highest paid employee of Brooks Pierce, with a usual hourly rate of $415 per hour and discounted rate of $300 per hour.

"If this letter accurately sets forth the understanding between the firm and you concerning the terms and conditions of our firm's representation, please show your acceptance by signing the enclosed copy of this letter and returning it to me," House writes.

A contract based on House's engagement letter comes before the Greensboro City Council for approval on Tuesday.

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