Biloxi seeks specialized legal representation

The City of Biloxi is seeking proposals from qualified attorneys and law firms to possibly provide the city outside legal counsel on an as-needed basis.

The city today began advertising for qualified representation to cover a potential field of nearly three dozen public policy areas that range, alphabetically, from annexation to workers compensation.

The move is one of Mayor Andrew “FoFo” Gilich’s efforts to reduce the city’s legal fees and expenses, which were about $4.5 million over the last three fiscal years or an average of about $1.5 million a year.

In one of his first moves after becoming mayor – just two days into office, in fact – Gilich proposed former Mayor Gerald Blessey as city attorney, a position that had been vacant at City Hall for years as the city relied mostly on outside counsel.

Blessey, who also advises the mayor on economic development initiatives, was approved unanimously by the Biloxi City Council. Any outside counsel approved by the mayor and City Council would report to him.

“We want to have the best field of specialized attorneys available to us, offering the best service and conservative fees,” Gilich said. “We’re looking for creative ideas to reduce costs, not just an hourly rate. Our goal here is to have cost-effective representation for the city.”

The city now pays a rate of $135 an hour for attorneys, and $55 an hour for paralegals.

Among the specialized areas the city is seeking are bond counsel, cemetery issues, contracts, civil service, debt collection, elections, eminent domain, environmental permitting, ethics in government, general litigation, intellectual property, motor vehicles for hire, planning and zoning, real estate, tax appeals, utilities, telecommunications, tidelands leases, tort claims and workers compensation.

The city is asking interested lawyers to submit qualifications for specific fields, proposed hourly rates or alternative fee structures that may include savings based on outcome of cases; experience and community commitment, which includes location of offices and numbers of attorneys involved in the firm. The city also asks applicants to disclose any potential conflicts of interest.

Sealed proposals are due July 13 at the mayor’s office on the second floor of City Hall.
Read the city’s Request for Proposals