Public Law Services

Overview

Walter | Haverfield has provided general and special legal counsel to government bodies since shortly after its founding in 1932, and today we offer a wide range of services to municipalities, townships, school boards, special taxing districts, and regional agencies in Ohio.

Areas of representation include:

  • Zoning and land use
  • Public telecommunications issues
  • Administrative law and procedures
  • Drafting of legislation and regulations
  • Drafting of charters and charter amendments
  • Equal employment practices
  • Defense of civil rights actions
  • Defense of public officials
  • Self-insurance pools
  • Prosecution 
  • Environmental law
  • Real estate and construction law
  • Eminent domain
  • Public improvement projects
  • Awarding of contracts 
  • Regulatory compliance
  • Wireless telecom facilities regulations and leasing
  • Public funding, tax abatements and economic development
The group consists of thirteen attorneys, many of whom serve as law directors or assistant law directors for northern Ohio communities. We have successfully argued precedent-setting cases at all levels of the state and federal court system, including the U.S. Supreme Court. 

Experience

The Public Law group’s representative experience includes the following:

  • Representation of municipalities in litigation to establish the authority of a municipality, as a part of a council of governments, to lobby the state legislature on matters related to local self-government
  • Counsel elected officials, and developed municipal procedures designed to achieve the objectives of elected officials, without incurring litigation costs
  • Representation of a municipality in federal court to establish the legality of a minimum age to be a candidate for mayor
  • Representation of a municipality in a taxpayer’s action seeking to prevent the municipality from erecting a communications tower on municipally- owned property
  • Representation of school districts on matters wherein municipalities were seeking to regulate the districts’ development activities
  • Representation of a municipality in litigation related to a municipally owned golf course and development of municipally-owned property adjacent to the golf course
  • Counsel many public sector clients on the application of Ohio’s Sunshine Laws (the Public Records Act and Open Meetings Act) to difficult fact patterns
  • Negotiated easements with numerous private and public property owners to acquire rights to construct a $ 1 million dollar public hike and bike trail in local village pursuant to a federal grant awarded by NOACA and administered as an LPA project through ODOT
  • Advised local village on the process to construct a new $4 million police station as a design-build project and prepared all necessary agreements, proposals, and ordinances
  • Negotiated purchase agreement and land reconfiguration with large corporate landowner for donation of land to the Cuyahoga County Public Library for the construction of new library in local village
  • Conducted multiple eminent domain proceedings in Cuyahoga and Summit County Probate Courts to acquire right-of-way for roadway projects, as well as to facilitate economic development and secure recreational green space
  • Ethics, elections, and campaign finance counsel to public entities 
  • Assist municipalities with the development and administration of comprehensive Public Right of Way (PROW) management ordinances
  • Advised local government entities on the formation of a joint recreation district to preserve a 300+ acre property from development
  • Representation of public entities in zoning/land use litigation, including the defense of R.C. Chapter 2506 appeals taken from decisions of local Boards of Zoning Appeals
  • Representation of public entities in tort litigation involving the assertion of immunities and defenses under R.C. Chapter 2744
  • Amend codified ordinances for municipal clients to comply with U.S. EPA and Ohio EPA storm water management requirements
  • Representation of municipal clients in R.C. 2506 administrative appeals regarding land use and planning decisions rendered by planning commissions, boards of zoning appeals and councils at all levels - trial court, court of appeals and Ohio Supreme Court
  • Defended a mayor, council president and council members at trial before the Ohio Elections Commission on the issue of a campaign violation
  • Advise Joint Economic Development District ("JEDD") on creation and expansion issues
  • Draft Tax Increment Financing ("TIF") and Development Agreements with developers for construction of public infrastructure
U.S. News - Best Lawyers® 2015 “Best Law Firms” rankings:
  • Metropolitan Tier 1: Municipal Law, Municipal Litigation, Land Use & Zoning Litigation
  • Metropolitan Tier 2: Land Use & Zoning Law


According to U.S. News - Best Lawyers®, firms included in this year's listing "...are recognized for professional excellence with persistently impressive ratings from clients and peers. Achieving a tiered ranking signals a unique combination of quality law practice and breadth of legal expertise."  This year's ratings were based upon the largest number of participating firms and the highest number of client ballots since these rankings were initiated - more than 17,000 attorneys provided nearly 600,000 law firm evaluations, and almost 7,500 clients also participated in the evaluation process.

U.S.News - Best Lawyers® explained, "Ranked firms, presented in tiers, are listed on a national and/or metropolitan scale. Receiving a tier designation reflects the high level of respect a firm has earned among other leading lawyers and clients in the same communities and the same practice areas for their abilities, their professionalism and their integrity."
2014 rankings: 
  • Metropolitan Tier 1 - Municipal Law, Municipal Litigation, Land Use & Zoning Litigation 
2013 rankings: 
  • Metropolitan Tier 1 - Municipal Law, Land Use & Zoning Litigation
2012 rankings: 
  • Metropolitan Tier 1 - Municipal Law
  • MetropolitanTier 2 – Land Use & Zoning Litigation

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