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WV Attorney General Patrick Morrisey releases outside counsel policy

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CHARLESTON, WV -

West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey released a policy on using outside counsel.

The policy requires transparency and competitive bidding for the appointment of private attorneys to represent the State of West Virginia and its agencies in legal proceedings. A 45-day period for public comment passed while the office worked with a draft policy.

The office has worked on more than a dozen outside counsel situations since implementing the draft of the policy, and seven Requests for Proposals have already been performed.

"We are very pleased with both the input we received during the public comment period and the experience we gained during the implementation of the draft outside counsel policy," Morrisey said in a news release. "As a result, we believe that our final policy on outside counsel strikes an appropriate balance between the need for transparency and accountability in outside counsel hires and the desire to provide the state and its agencies with top-notch legal services."

Morrisey's office received six formal comment letters during the public comment period, and the office also received "a number" of informal comments that expressed support for the "overall intent" of the policy, according to a news release from Morrisey's office.

Changes the Office of the Attorney General were able to make as a result of the public comment period include: Expanding the factors to be considered during the competitive bidding process to consider any potential conflicts of interest as well as relevant input from the state entity client, if applicable; revising the pre-bidding process to require both the re-evaluation of the pre-approved attorney list at least every two years and a written determination explaining the reasons for selecting a pre-approved attorney or firm any time the pre-bid list is used; and, clarifying the policy's disclosure provisions to be sure any and all written determinations are subject to public posting, except in limited circumstances when the posting could jeopardize the attorney-client privilege or a confidential work product.

Morrisey said the new policy sends a strong message that West Virginia will be transparent and accountable.

"With its implementation, West Virginia joins a number of states pursuing outside counsel reform and sets an example that will garner attention nationwide," he said.

The policy can be viewed at wvago.gov/outsidecounsel.cfm.