After 14 months without, Prince Albert has appointed a city solicitor.
In a media release sent out Tuesday, the city revealed that it has reached an agreement with Mitchell Holash of Novus Law Group for contracted city solicitor services. The contract is for a two-year term stretching from Oct. 1, 2018, until Sept. 30, 2020.
The contract will allow Holash or an associate to provide on-site legal services for a minimum of 40 weeks, with established operating hours, within City Hall.
“The arrangement will provide for an experienced legal presence inside City Hall and at city council and executive committee meeting making legal resources immediately available to both administration and city council,” the city said in a media release.
“We’ve been without a solicitor for well over a year,” said city manager Jim Toye.
“We did have some (requests for proposal) go out and didn’t have the result we were looking for. We approached him, and it did take us a little while to work out the fine details, but we did that and now he’s on board.”
Holash isn’t new to the type of work that will be required of him under the contract. Holash has been doing work with the city on an interim basis during that 14-month period it was without a solicitor. That included representing the city in court cases, such as the battle with Embee Diamonds over a property at 1203 Central Avenue.
“He’s done the lion’s share of the work,” Toye said. “He did certainly backfill on certain situations when we needed a little more expertise than we had in-house.”
Toye is unaware of any other city that has elected to go with an arrangement like the one reached with Prince Albert as opposed to having a solicitor in-house.
“It is a little bit unique, but sometimes, when the status quo isn’t working, you need to do something a little different,” he said.
Holash said that so far, he’s been enjoying the arrangement.
“Being on site during the term of the contract has been a much-improved situation,” he said.
“It’s a little more challenging to provide the services from outside of City Hall. To actually bring our lawyers inside City hall to work directly with the excellent directors and personnel here is a special arrangement. It is a much-improved situation than working for the city from a couple of blocks away.”
Toye said an added bonus is Holash’s presence in the community and his familiarity with both council and the public.
“A lot of people know him,” Toye said.
“A lot of the business people we work with know him, our staff knows him, council knows Mr. Holash — he’s very well respected. He supports the city in many, many ways. It certainly is good to have him.
“I think it’s good for the city to get someone like that who really knows his business, is really intelligent and can assist us in areas where we need that legal opinion.”
Despite the new arrangement, Holash said he will continue to be the managing partner at Novus Law Group, and will continue to service all of his existing clientele in the same way he has.
“We’ll provide this unique arrangement where it will provide a more deep base of lawyers available to the city on an as-needed basis,” he said.
Holash said the arrangement is an acknowledgement from the city of what his law firm has accomplished.
“We’ve expanded our office in recent years to include a number of strong, prince Albert-based young lawyers, so the opportunity to serve a major client like the City of Prince Albert on a contract like this is a nice nod of support to what we’ve done at our firm and the lawyers who serve us so well there.
“It’s our hometown, and we’re really excited to be of assistance to the city.”