Local Govenments Law

Our firm has a substantial governmental practice spanning 37 years. We have served cities, counties, school systems, utility districts, and other local governments of Tennessee with their legal needs. Ranging from administration, contract, and employment law, to code enforcement, budgeting and expenditures, litigation, pension plan management, and environmental issues, we are uniquely positioned to guide clients through a broad range of very complex legal situations.

Our work with government clients includes a fluency in statutes, codes, and regulations on local, state and federal levels. Our experience representing various local government entities means that we possess in-depth knowledge concerning the application of the open meetings and records law. We regularly advise our government clients regarding the application of open meetings and records laws and assist them in developing policies and procedures which comply with those laws. This involves not only assisting them in carrying out their responsibilities and duties, but also in guiding them past the pitfalls of illegal action.

We have represented the City of Alcoa since 2005 where Stephanie Coleman, one of our partners, serves in the capacity of City Attorney. Additionally, we serve as general counsel or special counsel to the West Knox Utility District, Alcoa Board of Education, Lenoir City Utilities Board, Smoky Mountain Tourism Development Authority, and the Knox County Retirement and Pension Board.

Serving the City of Alcoa, we are intimately familiar with the governance and structure of a public corporation. We are responsible for advising both the Mayor and City Manager in the operation of the city on a daily basis. We also advise the city’s Board of Commissioners governing the passage of resolutions and ordinances, compliance with sunshine and other state laws, proper progress and action during public meetings, and ethical and fiduciary responsibilities of the board members. We work with the police department to ensure that policies are up to date, answer questions regarding civil rights issues, offer training to officers, and generally serve as an expert and resource in matters of law enforcement.

We are familiar both with the use of eminent domain as it applies to private property owners and the application of such legal doctrines between governmental and quasi-government entities that both have the power of eminent domain. We have extensive experience filing condemnation actions of both large and small value and defending inverse condemnation actions on behalf of government clients. Over the course of projects for various clients, we have been involved in land acquisition, zoning and land use matters, environmental conservation and compliance, tax exempt financing, requests for proposals, construction agreements, other service provider contracts, and certificates of need at the state level.

Somewhat unique to government entities is the process for requesting proposals and qualifications for a competitive bidding process. John Owings, during his time at the law director’s office in Knox County, was frequently involved in the process of drafting and issuing RFP’s and RFQ’s, and we leverage his experience in assisting our governmental clients to do the same.

Our firm has decades of experience in the specific and nuanced laws applicable to local governmental entities in Tennessee, and we enjoy using that experience to help our clients face a variety of challenges, situations, and opportunities.