October 30, 2018

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Specialized Legal Counsel

 
Gordon Graham
Category: Law Enforcement

Gordon Graham here with Todays Tip from Lexipol. Today’s tip applies to everyone in public safety and it deals with the importance of having specialized legal counsel available to your agency.  

In a perfect world, every agency would have its own specialized in-house legal counsel.

Many of the lawyers who make a living suing public safety departments are specialists with extensive knowledge and experience. Often, the lawyers who advise our agencies are generalists. While they may be bright legal minds, many times they have more experience dealing with eminent domain and zoning issues than law enforcement or fire department matters.  

Some agencies ask for advice from the DA or the prosecutor’s office. They may have a great understanding of search and seizure and criminal law, but they do not usually understand agency civil liability. Even if they do, in most cases they are not there to give you legal advice.  

In a perfect world, every agency would have its own specialized in-house legal counsel. But, in reality, only the larger agencies usually have this luxury. 

If you are a larger agency without specialized in-house counsel you should consider adding the position. I think it would be money well spent. If you are a smaller agency you should find specialized counsel. Identify someone who will be available when you need them to answer questions that are beyond the expertise of your city or county counsel. At the same time, you should work with your city or county attorney to find training courses and materials that may help them better understand your unique legal needs. 

It is predictable that your agency will need specialized legal advice. It is also predictable that your agency will be sued. Take the time now to identify someone you can call on when you need it.  

And that’s Today’s Tip from Lexipol. Gordon Graham, signing off. 

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