The Haverhill School Committee chose a new law firm last Thursday to assist with contract negotiations, employee discipline and other labor relations matters.
Boston-based Morgan, Brown and Joy was selected after committee members interviewed representatives from three firms seeking the assignment. Other contenders were Mirick O’Connell out of Worcester and Murphy, Hesse, Toomey and Lehane of Quincy.
In his pitch, Morgan, Brown and Joy partner David M. Connelly explained why he believes his firm would offer the best representation for Haverhill.
“The other two firms are large firms that have a diverse practice. We’re solely focused on labor and employment and I think the breadth of experience that I’ve had I think is also a value to you,” he said.
Connelly, who has worked with the City of Haverhill on at least one case in the past, would be the Committee’s legal representative. The firm takes over from William D. Cox Jr., who retired from at the end of July. Cox has worked for the School Committee for the past 12 years in addition to serving as city solicitor since 2004. He will continue as city solicitor part time.
Committee members asked all three candidates questions covering topics from their experience with collective bargaining and arbitration to their blueprint for transitioning into the job and their fee structure. Committee member Richard J. Rosa summarized Morgan, Brown and Joy’s fees for the rest of the committee and the public before the vote.
“Their proposal was a $75,000 retainer at 200 hours, which by my calculations is $375 an hour and then $275 per hour for litigation matters,” he said.
According to the school department’s request for proposals, applicants are required to be members in good standing of the Massachusetts Bar and Bar of the U.S. District Court of Massachusetts, experienced with federal and state education laws with a minimum of five years working with or for a Massachusetts public school district and have the ability to provide a “guaranteed same-day response.”
The Committee took a 10-minute recess, ostensibly to discuss their ideas privately before returning and casting a unanimous vote for Morgan, Brown and Joy.