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Office of the State Comptroller - Local Government & School Accountability

Local Government and School Accountability

Protecting the Public’s Interest

A Tutorial on Local Government Ethics and Transparency in New York State

Module 3 - Case Studies on Conflicts of Interest

Situation 1

A partner in a law firm has been appointed to the office of town attorney this month. The law firm was retained two years ago by the town to represent it in a certain legal matter, which is still in litigation. The town’s contract with the firm will continue until the case is resolved. In this town, the town attorney’s functions include the duty to approve vouchers submitted for payment by outside counsel prior to audit by the town board.

Does the town attorney have a prohibited interest in the town’s contract with her law firm? Why or why not? If the town attorney’s interest is not prohibited, are there any other issues that the town should concern itself with?

  Next: Discussion of Situation 1