Municipal law is specific to a particular county, city, town, or township, or other district or governmental entity possessing corporate status and usually its own governing body. Generally, governmental subdivisions are referred to as municipalities. Municipalities derive their authority from the supreme power in the state and are typically operated by varying forms of governing bodies comprised of elected and/or appointed officials who are responsible for directing the affairs of the municipality through the promulgation of laws, policies, and regulations.
Attorneys who practice municipal law act as a municipality’s attorney for all legal matters or special counsel for specific legal matters. Municipal attorneys also assist in ensuring that the day-to-day operations of the municipality and any matters enacted by its governing body comply with local, state, and federal laws. These laws include those that may affect any potential liability of the municipality and those elected or appointed individuals and employees involved in its operations. The practice of municipal law encompasses a wide range of issues including, but not limited to the scope of the municipality’s police power, employment, and labor issues, real estate, zoning and land use matters, economic development, imposition of taxes, public bidding and contracts, tax assessments, environmental regulations, and access to public meetings and public information.
Municipal attorneys can also act as private legal counsel, providing services for individuals, partnerships, corporations, and other entities in their encounters, both adversarial and non-adversarial, with governmental entities.
Finally, a municipal attorney may act as an advocate for municipalities and private entities before various courts, administrative agencies, and the municipality’s various boards and commissions.