Municipal law is a challenging and exciting area of legal practice. It not only requires commanding a broad range of legal subject matter, but also having keen instincts and working well with others. We understand that a municipal attorney’s clients are the citizens of the community, and we provide practical advice for pursuing the public good.
Running a municipal government is a complex affair. Staff and public officials have to comply with a tangled web of legal rules: from sunshine laws, to charter and ordinance requirements, to arcane rules of parliamentary procedure. These rules can be a trap for the unwary, creating problems for communities that fail to address them proactively. We help clients develop smooth and compliant procedures for conducting public business. With planning, local governments can avoid procedural pitfalls and focus on the matters most important to constituents.
One of the most important roles of local government is to facilitate orderly and sustainable development that serves the community’s needs. We advise clients regarding the numerous legal tools that can achieve these goals. Nick has helped clients with master planning, zoning ordinance development, brownfield and tax incentives, and a broad range of other community development strategies. Nick’s writings on zoning and land use have been published in statewide legal journals, and he has spoken at several conferences on zoning-related topics.
Local governments must be mindful of the constitutional rights of their citizens. Those rights come into play in many contexts, from police procedures, to yard-sign regulation, to holiday displays. Nick is fascinated with constitutional law and keeps up to date with its ever-changing rules. He is well versed in the First Amendment’s free speech, free exercise, and establishment clause jurisprudence.
Elections are at the heart of democratic governance. Nick has extensive experience in counseling clients on elections issues, ballot language drafting, and election language. He has particular expertise in Michigan’s direct-democracy mechanisms, which include ballot initiatives, referenda, and the recall of elected officials.