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Blair considering labor attorney fees

HOLLIDAYSBURG — Blair County commissioners are mulling over the cost associated with continued use of two out-of-town law firms specializing in labor law and employment matters.

Commissioner Laura Burke told fellow commissioners Bruce Erb and Amy Webster on Tuesday that she believed there are firms that could represent the county at lower rates.

The county has been relying on McNees Wallace and Nurick of Harrisburg, with an office in State College, for legal advice on matters for all county departments except the prison.

For the prison, the county relies on Campbell Durrant, a law firm with offices in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia.

Those law firms are providing excellent service, Human Resources Director Katherine Swigart told commissioners who reviewed rates on Tuesday for continued use of the firms.

McNees Wallace and Nurick listed the cost of a dedicated county labor counselor at $340 per hour. The hourly cost of an attorney was listed at $235 to $520 per hour, depending on the attorney’s expertise, experience and area of practice.

For paralegals and specialists, McNees, Wallace and Nurick listed the cost at $185 to $355 per hour, depending on expertise and experience.

For Campbell Durrant, the prices were listed as $205 per hour for principal attorneys, $180 per hour for senior associates, $170 per hour for associates and $130 per hour for paralegals and law clerks.

Erb said he was pleased with both firms and the personnel they’ve assigned to work with the county. To address Burke’s concern, Erb proposed that he and County Administrator Nicole Hemminger ask the firms about negotiating their prices.

Another option, county leaders acknowledged, would be advertising for proposals from law firms interested in providing this service at their proposed rates.

Swigart said that option should involve a thorough review of the services and not just a “dollar and cents” examination.

Swigart cautioned that based on her experience in human resources, the use of an attorney with less experience or less expertise can translate into more research and therefore, higher costs for the client.

Mirror Staff Writer Kay Stephens is at 814-946-7456.

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