LAFAYETTE, La. (KLFY) — The process of retaining special counsel for Lafayette Consolidated Government was explained following Councilman Glenn Lazard asking for clarification. Lazard was concerned about multiple attorneys present at the public meeting audit presentation for 2021-2022. 

The confusion centered on the definition of a special counsel. 

“What do we consider a regular city-parish attorney as opposed to a special counsel,” questioned Councilman Glenn Lazard of District Five to City-Parish Attorney Greg Logan. 

“If we’re doing a presentation to the council, I think it’s best to bring the people who are giving us these legal opinions and giving us this guidance,” Logan replied.

Logan brought in attorney Mike Hebert to explain the home rule charter under section 4-03e. The legal department states no special legal counsel shall be retained by the City of Lafayette, the Parish of Lafayette and/or the City-Parish Government except by written contract for a specific purpose approved by the favorable vote of a majority of the authorized membership of the City Council, the Parish Council, or both, depending upon the subject matter. 

Councilwoman Nanette Cook mentioned questions from the community about the definition of a special counsel. 

“Questions that we’re getting from the public: They’re looking at the charter too, and when you read the charter, it says by approval of the council, so I think they’re looking at that and saying how can that be if they’re called special counsel,” she said. 

“The charter doesn’t have a definition of special counsel,” Hebert said. “I would urge you to focus not so much on the word special but on the term-specific purpose.”

He added that Section 4-03d, which deals with the assistance of city-parish attorneys, says that the City-Parish Attorney may engage Assistant City-Parish Attorneys to assist in carrying out the duties of the office, and those are appointed by and serve at the pleasure of the City-Parish Attorney.

“Being no real definition of special legal counsel, I think the clear touchstone under the charter is simply whether the engagement is for these specific purposes as opposed to something that is expected either to be somewhat ongoing in nature or to be somewhat varied in nature, and that’s how it’s been historically, applied as well,” Hebert said. 

Councilman Lazard requested a copy of the invoices for the attorney’s fees. Logan mentioned they would be available within 30 days.