A municipal attorney, otherwise known as city attorney, is legal practitioner mandated to protect the legal interests of the municipality. More often than not, the policies and decisions formed by elected leaders may offend some, leading to disputes. This is where a municipal attorney comes in to represent the best interests of the municipal administration.
To better understand the role of a municipal attorney, it is imperative to understand a bit on municipal law. Municipal laws are specific to cities, counties, townships, or boroughs, generally known as municipalities and other government bodies within these areas. Although elected officials form municipal laws, the municipality’s residents play a significant role in decision-making. The laws are instrumental in the decision-making process with the counsel of an experienced and professional municipal attorney.
Apart from representing the municipality, a municipal attorney, like any other attorney, advises the client on what is acceptable by law and what is not. However, they must do this with great care not to suggest policies, not to make decisions for the client, nor dictate the path to be pursued on any issues affecting the municipality’s governance.
Essentially, to qualify for the role, you must complete a doctorate in law which could take up to seven years. Additionally, city lawyers must sit for and pass the bar exams-usually specific to the state they wish to work for-and have additional skills such as communication, research, and problem-solving skills.
Once deemed fit for the job, an individual becomes a full-time municipal employee, working over 40 hours weekly. ( number of work hours vary depending on the work environment), and so does the salary. The average for this position is approximately $118,188, with the lowest earners taking home $ 53,500 annually while the top earners bag up to $146,000 annually. Municipal attorneys can also work part-time and on a retainer agreement. Generally, the role takes a lot of expertise and commitment.