Barrett Chooses Former Newburyport Mayor Mead to Lead Haverhill Law Department

Haverhill City Hall. (WHAV News file photograph.)

Former Newburyport Mayor Lisa L. Mead and her firm, Mead, Talerman & Costa, will lead Haverhill’s law department—marking the first time the job moves from a required city-based lawyer to an outside practice.

Mead—a three-term Newburyport mayor who served from 1994 to 1997, before leaving to become state director for U.S. Sen. John F. Kerry, and served as mayor again from 2000-2001—was named Haverhill’s new “special city solicitor” Friday by Mayor Melinda E. Barrett. Mayoral Chief of Staff Christine Lindberg told WHAV the demands of the office have become too great for a sole-proprietor and the job drew few interested candidates for the advertised $120,000 annual salary.

“We did put out, looking for an in-house city solicitor, but we didn’t get a lot of—we really didn’t get anybody applying (locally),” she told WHAV, adding “those days are gone” where one person brings all of the expertise necessary to meet the needs of a city. Of retired Haverhill City Solicitor William D. Cox Jr., she said, “They just don’t make them like that anymore.”

Lindberg said Mead rose to the top of the list, partly because of her experience as a mayor, when the city expanded its search. While Mead will personally hold the title of special city solicitor, members of her firm deliver such specialties as labor relations. Lawyers will be at City Hall once a week to answer staff inquiries and sign documents as needed. They will also provide training seminars on such topics as open meeting law compliance.

For the time being, Mead, Talerman & Costa will be paid $225 per hour.

Assistant City Solicitor Thomas C. Fallon, retained in 2022 when Cox moved to part-time status, will also remain on the job. As in the past, specialty law firms will still be hired occasionally for services such as zoning and environmental. Haverhill Public Schools also rely on their own lawyer for its needs. Currently, the schools are represented by Boston-based Morgan, Brown and Joy.

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