City Council Hires New Law Firm For City Work

Its 17-year relationship with the same law firm ending, not of its own choice, the Palm Coast City Council on Tuesday unanimously opted to negotiate a contract with the Douglas Law Firm of St. Augustine, a 12-attorney firm established 10 years ago, with offices in several northeast Florida counties but just now expanding to Flagler Beach.
The firm was among four that responded to a request for proposal. The others were Vose Law Firm, GrayRobinson and Fishback Dominick Attorneys. Fishback dropped out before the council’s decision on Tuesday, a decision the three remaining firms’ free structure made for the council: Douglas is proposing a $30,000-a-month fee, or 120 hours of work at $250 an hour. Extra hours are billed additionally. GrayRobinson was proposing a $58,000 fixed monthly retainer, while Vose was proposing $75,000.
Douglas Law Firm and GrayRobinson were the only two firms that responded to the Flagler County School Board’s request for proposals as that board is also in the process of replacing its attorney of 17 years, after firing her. But three was reluctance among some school board members to go with Douglas because one of its attorneys, Marcus Duffy, has close ties to Flagler County. The board wants to avoid such ties, seeing them as another potential conflict. The city council’s choice of Douglas for representation may push the school board further away from that choice for that reason, as the city and the school board’s interests occasionally intersect.
Duffy was among the three attorneys who pitched the firm’s proposal to the city in a special workshop in February. “I did move here before the freshman year of high school. I graduated from FPC and I met my wife here,” Duffy told the council, referring to Palm Coast. “So this is kind of a very passionate thing for me. My kids still call Palm Coast home because this is where they would visit their grandparents when I was in the Air Force. So this is also a service to my community, if given the opportunity.”
Duffy presented alongside fellow-attorney John Steinmetz and Jeremiah Blocker, the managing partner. Blocker served on the St. Johns County Commission for a four-year term that ended in 2022, including as chairman, an experience he cited as giving him “familiarity with that on both sides of that, having been an elected official, and also being a legal adviser,” he told the council, “really trying to put ourselves in your shoes and make sure that we’re available and accessible.”