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City of Chicago’s New Top Lawyer Says He Plans to Bring More Work In-House

Posted May 17, 2011 11:20 AM CDT
By Stephanie Francis Ward

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Chicago’s new mayor Rahm Emanuel has been talking about significant budget cuts, but his assistant corporation counsels’ jobs may be safe—the administration’s top lawyer, Stephen Patton, told the Chicago Tribune yesterday that he intends to bring more legal work in-house.

The law department, which includes about 230 attorneys, has an operating budget of $34 million. In 2010, the Chicago Tribune reports, the city paid $25.9 million to 78 law firms. The cap on outside counsel payment is currently set at $295 an hour.

"I've had years of experience managing and providing legal services," said Patton, who left a senior partnership position at Kirkland & Ellis for the corporation counsel gig. "I want to bring those skills into how the city retains and supervises the law firms that provide services to it."

Also, Patton said, he expects the law department to do more with less. And he plans to ask law firms to represent the city on a pro bono basis, for selected litigation and transaction matters.

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