Item Coversheet

Action Item - 19.

Title: Authorization of Increased Outside Counsel Fees for FY21

Board of Education Meeting Date:

Action under consideration


The Administration recommends that the Board of Education authorize The School District of Philadelphia, through the General Counsel, to increase payments in Fiscal Year 2021 made for outside legal services, which the Office of General Counsel retains on an as-needed basis to represent the Board of Education, The School District of Philadelphia, its present and former employees, and present and former members of the Board of Education and the School Reform Commission, subject to funding, as follows:


Payments to:

Ahmad & Zaffarese, LLC
Archer & Greiner, P.C.
Assigned Counsel Incorporated

The Axelrod Firm, PC

Baker Botts LLP

Ballard Spahr LLP
Bazelon Less & Feldman, P.C.
Bennett, Bricklin & Saltzburg, LLC

Brustein & Manasevit, PLLC
Charles F. Forer Alternative Dispute Resolution Services

Company Counsel LLC

Cozen O'Conner

Dilworth Paxson LLP
Eckert Seamans Cherin & Mellott, LLC
Fineman, Krekstein  and Harris, P.C.
Fox Rothschild LLP

Goldberg, Miller, & Rubin, P.C.

Griesing Law, LLC
Hangley Aronchick Segal Pudlin & Schiller
King, Spry, Herman, Freund & Faul, LLC
Kolber & Randazzo, P.C.
Landau, Hess, Simon, & Choi

Levin Legal Group, P.C.

Manko, Gold, Katcher & Fox LLP

Marshall Dennehey Warner Coleman & Goggin

McNichol, Byrne, & Matlawski., P.C.

Montgomery, McCracken Walker & Rhoads, LLP 

Pietragallo Gordon Alfano Bosick & Raspanti, LLP

Rudolph Garcia, Attorney at Law

Schnader Harrison Segal & Lewis, LLP

Sweet Stevens Katz & Williams, LLP

The Law Office of Benjamin N. Gialloreto

Troutman Pepper LLP
Turner Law. P.C.

Welsh & Recker P.C.
Wilson Elser, Moskowitz, Edelman & Dicker LLP

Wisler Pearlstine, LLP


Purpose: Increased authorization for outside counsel legal fees and costs in FY21


Start Date: 3/26/2021


End Date: 6/30/2021


Original compensation not to exceed: $4,250,000 for FY21, with all entities to be paid out of the total aggregate amount


Additional compensation for FY21 not to exceed: $1,500,000


New total compensation not to exceed: All entities paid from the FY21 new aggregate amount of $5,750,000


Location(s):  Administrative Offices


Description:  The Office of General Counsel (OGC) attempts to handle as many matters in-house as possible and reduce reliance and expenditures on outside counsel. The types of matters and extent of needed outside legal services fluctuate and are not susceptible of precise estimation. OGC accordingly retains outside counsel on an as-needed basis to provide or assist in providing legal services in various matters based on, among other things, expertise, complexity, and resource and technology capabilities. No firm or lawyer is entitled to receive any District legal work. OGC seeks reduced hourly rates, with firms often significantly reducing their billing rates for District matters, or under alternative, flat, and capped fee arrangements. OGC also closely reviews outside counsel invoices and, when appropriate, requires adjustments to bills. 


On June 27, 2019, the Board authorized OGC to spend $4,250,000 per year for FY20, FY21, and FY22 on outside legal services.  A confluence of factors led to an increase in outside counsel retention and fees and costs in FY21. These factors include, for example: need for specific expertise and capacity for intensive document collection, review, management, and electronic production in non-routine, unanticipated, and/or highly technical and regulated areas; increase in employment and labor related matters, including novel issues stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic such as school closing and reopening, mediation and other mandatory bargaining issues with District employee unions, and the District’s legal requirement to bargain two collective bargaining agreements (CBAs) with the PFT during FY21, as well as CBAs with CASA and SPAP; and absences in OGC due to medical and maternity leaves. 


Related Action Items:

June 27, 2019; No. 23

November 21, 2019; No. 10

January 30, 2020; No. 21

February 27, 2020; No. 51

August 20, 2020; No. 10


Funding Source(s):  Operating

 Office Originating Request: General Counsel