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Municipal & Public Entity Law

The various legal challenges faced by Michigan municipalities, as well as other public entities, are complex and require experienced counsel to address. The key to successfully tackling these challenges is to find the right lawyer, with the right firm, that will fit a client's needs. The right lawyer is a strong advocate; a source of key information and wisdom that comes with first-hand experience. 

The attorneys in Foster Swift’s Administrative and Municipal Law Group are skilled at serving the diverse needs of local governments—from A (Annexation) to Z (Zoning) and from the simplest ordinances to the most complex bond issues. Our firm stays on the cutting edge of municipal law. Several of our lawyers are acknowledged municipal law specialists that are frequently called upon to teach at educational programs for municipal officials and other municipal lawyers.

Foster Swift has earned a reputation as one of the premier municipal law firms in Michigan through decades of experience serving townships, cities, villages, counties, libraries, and other public entities.

Examples of matters regularly handled by the Administrative and Municipal Law Group include:

  • Municipal Litigation: Representation of municipal governments in litigation involving civil rights claims, constitutional claims, and governmental immunity as well as frequently defending municipalities in cases involving municipal liability, workers’ compensation, and negligence. 
  • Labor Relations and Employment Law: Handle wide range of labor and employment issues, from bargaining to grievance proceedings, unfair labor allegations, employment policies, litigation and more.
  • FOIA and OMA: Assist municipalities in navigating complexities under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and the Open Meetings Act (OMA) to uphold their obligations and remain compliant to avoid violations.
  • Public Finance: Assist with complicated infrastructure projects throughout the including public buildings, parking facilities and highways.
  • Library Law: Address library matters as General Counsel and on a special project basis.
  • Environmental Law: Foster Swift was one of the first firms anywhere to litigate an environmental case. Foster Swift attorneys advise municipalities on PFAS and PFOS, solid waste planning under Part 115 of the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act ("NREPA"), landfill contamination issues, and help obtain reimbursement of environmental response costs. In addition, Foster Swift attorneys represent clients in matters involving permitting and licensing under various Michigan Acts and work with municipalities to address land use issues that may impact natural resources.
  • General Municipal Counsel: Provide full-service advice to municipalities, including drafting ordinances, First Amendment issues, election law compliance, land use and zoning.
  • General Administrative Counsel: Provide full-service advice for regulated and unregulated entities, such as telecommunications, energy and utility entities. Handle matters involving the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC).
  • Municipal Utility Law: Provide guidance on such issues as sanitary sewers, storm sewers, county drains and water service authorities.
  • Prosecution Services: Deliver efficient, economical, and effective prosecution of ordinance violations including the Uniform Traffic Code (UTC) and violations of the Michigan Motor Vehicle Code.
  • Commercial litigation: Advise and represent municipalities in range of litigation matters; Foster Swift is approved counsel for the Michigan Township Participating Plan.
  • Appeals: Draft and argue appeals in all state and federal courts and administrative agencies, including occupational licensing, state construction and EGLE matters.
  • Property taxes and Tax Tribunal proceedings: Represent municipalities and local governments in property tax appeals before the Michigan Tax Tribunal and Court of Claims. Our work in this area includes significant commercial and industrial appeals,  assistance on tax assessments, tax collection, and special assessment issues - particularly in complex cases – and assist municipalities with drafting millage language.
  • Condemnation and Eminent Domain: Assist with the selection of qualified appraisers, consultants, and engineers to consider the construction and design of the project. Represent parties in lawsuits and appeals. Ensure compliance with project construction and design requirements.
  • Help clients understand and comply with state and federal statutes and regulations including HIPPA, ECPA, and others. Advise clients in all aspects of cybersecurity and data protection.

In addition to its significant administrative and municipal law capabilities, Foster Swift offers access to various subject matter specialists throughout the firm, whenever a need arises. The firm’s ability to marshal and organize a range of multi-disciplinary skills on behalf of clients is an important advantage and point of differentiation between Foster Swift and many of its competitors.

Clients rely on the members of our group for practical, responsive, and informed results. Whatever administrative or municipal legal matters you may have, Foster Swift has the experience, track record, resources, and know-how to serve you in an efficient and effective manner. 

Economies of scale

Clients benefit from our wide range of attorneys, knowledgeable on a variety of issues. Moreover, Foster Swift boasts a database of model language, gleaned from several decades of our attorneys working with our clients. So, we are able to provide efficient counsel at any time and on any case. And while, Foster Swift benefits from the size and experience of our attorneys, our focus remains on the quality and efficiency of our service.

Our attorneys are highly regarded by peers, have a history of success in the field, and serve the needs of clients - resulting in many client relationships that span decades. Clients rely on the members of our group for practical, responsive, and informed results. 

The reasons clients turn to Foster Swift vary. Whatever the matter, clients value the firm's experience, track record and our easy-to-work with demeanor.

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