Big Rapids will contract with Mika Meyers PLC for legal services

BIG RAPIDS — The Big Rapids City Commission approved a legal services contract with Mika Meyers, PLC at its meeting this week.

Earlier this year, Big Rapids attorney Eric Williams, who has represented the city for about 36 years, told council he plans to retire at the end of the year. Since then, a search committee has been working to find a replacement for Williams.

“We are not thrilled that Eric is retiring at the end of the year, and we will miss his wisdom for the city,” said City Manager Mark Gifford, who served on the search committee. “We (the committee) looked at the process of having a lawyer on staff as we have had in the past. It didn’t go very far, so we looked into the possibility of working with law firms.

At a meeting in May, Gifford told the board that the committee was actively looking for a replacement but was struggling to find qualified candidates for municipal positions.

Commissioner Jennifer Cochran, who was also on the search committee, said at the time that she had received six applications, only two of which were viable.

“The question before us is how best to use our financial resources for the kind of work we need to have a legal consultant do,” she said. “One option we’ve talked about is contracting with a big company for the services we need.”

Gifford said they opened it up to all businesses in the state and received “wonderful” submissions.

“We did interviews with all of them, and Mika Meyers rose to the top,” Gifford said.

Bradley Fowler will be assigned as city counsel, with additional attorneys serving the city in the areas of financial counsel, employment counsel, ordinance enforcement and tax court counsel, according to reports. of the firm.

Fowler is a graduate of the Mercy School of Law at the University of Detroit. He has eight years of experience representing municipalities and other local authorities. He served as an assistant attorney general for the state of Michigan before entering private practice.

Local government law is one of the firm’s largest groups and is an area in which the firm specializes. Their municipal law practice dates back to 1956 and since then it has grown significantly, they said.

A significant benefit the city would have by retaining the company would be to eliminate the need to hire outside counsel for any special projects, as the company can provide a full range of services that the city may require.

“We are thrilled to be working with them, and Eric is working with Brad to make this transition as smooth as possible,” Gifford said.

The contract comes into effect on January 1, 2023, for a two-year term, expiring on December 31, 2024, and will automatically renew for two additional three-year terms, unless terminated by either party. For the initial period, the fee rate will be $250 per hour.

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