After decades of complaints about spiraling legal costs and potential conflicts of interest, Eugene City Manager Jon Ruiz has decided to hire an in-house attorney rather than having all the cityâ€™s legal work done by a private law firm.
Ruiz announced in a press release today that Eugene will have at least one in house lawyer starting July 1 and could expand to three attorneys working as city employees. City managers have given the private law firm of Harrang Long Gary Rudnick, P.C. exclusive contracts for almost all the cityâ€™s legal work for the past three decades.
â€œRuiz made the determination that having in-house legal staff would be beneficial to the City primarily for operational reasons,â€ the press release states without explanation. â€œThe change is also expected to help accomplish budget efficiencies,â€ says the press release, which does not mention conflicts of interest.
The city spends more than $3 million a year on legal bills, according to its budget document. Harrang Long has worked for the city while also working for tobacco companies and local big businesses. City Councilors have expressed concerns that the city attorney serves the unelected city managerâ€™s interests rather than the elected city council or city as a whole.
Ruiz announced that he has selected Glenn Klein, who currently does the same job for Harrang Long, as the new city employee city attorney for his â€œessential institutional knowledge.â€
At the same time, Ruiz announced that he had extended Harrang Longâ€™s exclusive contract for all the city legal work not done in house for up to four more years.