By Rich Pollack
After discussing the possibility of seeking a new outside law firm, the Boca Raton Airport Authority agreed last month to stay with the firm that has represented the board for the last nine years.
“I’m comfortable that we have a situation that doesn’t have to be addressed tonight,” said Authority member and Deputy Mayor Robert Weinroth.
At the authority’s October meeting, Weinroth made a motion to have the board explore the possibility of issuing a request for qualifications for legal services. The motion was tabled until the November meeting.
After a substantial discussion that included a presentation from Dawn Meyers, lead attorney for the board’s current law firm of Berger Singerman LLP, authority members agreed not to bring the matter up for a vote.
During the discussion, authority Executive Director Clara Bennett reminded board members that Berger Singerman has not raised its rate of $250 an hour since it began providing legal services in 2006. She also noted that the authority’s annual legal costs had been steadily declining in recent years.
“The trend reflects a continuous reduction in fees based on the long relationship and also based on the level of support this board requires and the level of support this staff requires,” Bennett said.
Meyers, who met individually with board members following the October meeting, said that since Bennett’s arrival almost two years ago there’s been a shift in the authority’s need for legal services.
“Previous boards and managers had a profoundly different way of operating, which up until recently placed a much higher reliance on legal services,” Meyers said. “This board approaches the relationship differently than past boards and thus I’m tailoring the nature, manner and tenor to conform with the will of this board.”
Meyers said she looked forward to open communication with board members going forward.
“My primary goal is to protect the integrity of this board and the decisions it makes, and to give you the ability to do what you were appointed to do,” she said.
In October, Weinroth said that prior to joining the authority, he had concerns about the legal representation the board was receiving but that his opinion had changed. He reiterated that at the November meeting.
“The lawyer has to reflect what the body is,” he said. “As the body and the executive director changes, the lawyer has to change how she approaches the client. I think I’m seeing a change in that dynamic.”
By Rich Pollack