02/15/07 — City likely to stick with same law firm

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City likely to stick with same law firm

By Kenneth Fine
Published in News on February 15, 2007 1:50 PM

Officials at City Hall said they do not expect the search for a new city attorney to take long.

Goldsboro City Manager Joe Huffman said while no decision has been made on a replacement for local attorney turned judge Tim Finan, informal conversations he has had with some members of the City Council have led him to believe another attorney from Finan's law firm will become his successor.

"One of the things they are interested in doing is utilizing some of the expertise from the law firm," Huffman said. "(Council members) haven't voted on that, but that's some of the informal discussion I've heard."

Gov. Mike Easley appointed Finan as the new judge for the 8th District, a position left vacant when Rose Vaughn Williams took a job with the state Insurance Commissioner's Office at the first of the year.

There are two years left on the term in office.

A decision to stick with Everett, Womble, Finan, Lawrence & Brown would mean less interruption of legal services for the city during the transition period from one attorney to the next, Huffman added.

After all, everyone in the practice has dealt with city issues before and partner Harrell Everett served as city attorney for a number of years before Finan was appointed to the post, representing the city during the Phase XI annexation hearings, involving property located near Buck Swamp and Salem Church roads.

"We have several different attorneys there we deal with," Huffman said. "Really, Tim's been the attorney, but we utilize the entire firm."

The city attorney is charged with attending all meetings of the City Council and assisting with legal matters -- personnel issues, acquisition and sale of property, annexations, title searches for dilapidated dwellings and more.

And while any one of Finan's colleagues are "more than qualified" for the position, Huffman said it will be hard to replace a man he calls "a dear friend."

"We've become friends and I really like him a great deal," he said. "He's a person of very strong character who has always consistently done the right thing for the right reason."

A new attorney might be named as early as Monday, Huffman added, as council members have acknowledged the need to fill the void as quickly as possible.