Arlington Heights hires new village attorney
Arlington Heights officials have hired a group of lawyers who were mentored by the late, longtime village attorney Jack Siegel to be their new legal advisers.
The village board Monday night confirmed Mayor Tom Hayes' appointment of Elrod Friedman, LLC and partner Hart Passman as the new village attorney.
The Chicago-based firm formed earlier this year out of the municipal and land use division of Holland & Knight's Chicago office - the firm where the legendary Siegel was working until his death in 2014. Siegel spent more than a half century as village attorney in Arlington Heights and Schaumburg.
"They really share the same approach to local government and legal representation of municipalities that Jack Siegel did, and I know they will carry on that great tradition," Hayes said.
The appointment came on the next business day after the Oct. 2 retirement of Robin Ward, the in-house counsel who spent 32 years at village hall. She essentially served as the second village attorney during Siegel's tenure, but had taken on a larger role in recent years.
Few suburban municipalities still have an in-house village attorney, and Hayes said Ward's retirement presented an opportunity to explore the more common approach of retaining an outside firm.
Hayes, who by profession is a toxic tort litigation defense attorney for McKenna Storer, recommended the appointment of the Elrod Friedman firm for its commitment to collaboration and civility, which are among the firm's guiding principles.
Passman currently serves as village attorney of Kenilworth and assists with representation of Highland Park and Lincolnwood. He promised to bring candor to the job of helping the village board understand the benefits and risks to each policy decision.
"We have no desire to be the ninth trustee or tenth member of the board," Passman said. "We love to be the municipal attorney. We love to facilitate and help implement the policies that you select."
There is no length of term to the law firm's appointment. It can be removed at any time by the village board.
Because the group was founded as a boutique firm representing both local governments and private developers in land use and government law, Passman said the firm would not take on any developers as clients who might seek zoning approvals in Arlington Heights.
Passman will be assisted by Andrew Fiske in performing legal work for the village. Fiske grew up attending meetings of the Evanston city council - the panel on which his mother Judy still sits - and remembers meeting Siegel as a five-year-old.
"Having come up through that experience and to have had the opportunity not only to study and work in municipal law, but to work with Jack for some time, it's just a wonderful connection to me in being able to join you and assist in all of your efforts," Fiske told trustees.