NORTH ADAMS — The city has transitioned to a municipal law firm after the retirement of former City Solicitor John DeRosa.
The city joined more than one-third of municipalities in Massachusetts represented by KP Law, which is based in Boston but has an office in Lenox.
After more than 35 years as the city solicitor and chief legal counsel, DeRosa announced last month that he would step down at the end of March and more vigorously pursue his work for private clients.
In planning for DeRosa's absence, the city reassessed its options for legal representation and settled on transitioning to a municipal law firm rather than a solicitor.
"It gives you a different level of expertise and responsiveness," said North Adams Mayor Thomas Bernard. "The solicitor had a deep well of North Adams-specific municipal knowledge."
KP Law, on the other hand, has numerous attorneys with specific knowledge in different areas, Bernard said.
"They have a stable of attorneys that can deal with specific issues, and the chances that they've seen something before are much higher, so we're able to get a quicker response," Bernard said.
KP Law, formerly known as Koppelman and Page, will be able to more readily provide templates for agreements.
"When we start to need contracts or agreements, we're able to look to them and get a good starting point," Bernard said.
But contracting to a municipal law firm will place a higher responsibility on city employees to research and fill out the template provided for, as an example, a goods and services contract.
"It puts a little more on ourselves," said City Administrative Officer Michael Canales. "Sometimes we might have just turned something completely over to the solicitor."
Canales noted that the city has worked with KP Law in the past, such as in drafting solar pilot agreements.
Bernard said the city expects the city's legal costs will not change, despite the transition, but the impact remains to be seen.
"At the end of the year, we'll do a comparison and we'll keep track," Bernard said.
The city budgeted $48,000 in fiscal 2018 for legal services, $45,000 of which was for DeRosa's salary.
Adam Shanks can be reached at email@example.com, at @EagleAdamShanks on Twitter, or 413-629-4517.