OCEAN PINES – Officials in Ocean Pines voted last week to approve a contract for legal services.
In a meeting last Saturday, the Ocean Pines Association Board of Directors voted unanimously to approve a legal contract from the law firm of Ayres, Jenkins, Gordy & Almand. While the board voted last month to approve the use of the new law firm, officials last week voted to approve the specific terms and conditions of the contract that have been submitted by the law firm and reviewed by the board.
After a lengthy debate, the Ocean Pines board voted last month to award a contract for legal services to the Ocean City-based law firm of Ayres, Jenkins, Gordy & Almand. While several praised the community’s current general counsel – Lerch, Early & Brewer – President Doug Parks argued it was good business practice to explore other opportunities.
“This motion says to contract for legal services,” he explained at the time. “This does not mean we have a contract yet. What it means is we are open and going to pursue Ayres, Jenkins, Gordy and Almand to enter into a contract.”
Parks told the board last month the association had sent a request for proposals to five law firms. Of those solicitations, two firms – Aryes, Jenkins, Gordy & Almand and Lerch, Early & Brewer – responded.
Those opposing the selection of Ayres, Jenkins, Gordy & Almand argued the association’s current legal counsel had top litigators spanning various legal specialties. They also questioned if hiring Ayres, Jenkins, Gordy & Almand would represent a conflict of interest, as the firm had represented two sitting board members in other legal matters.
“I’m also concerned about potential conflicts on the issues in which their other local clients’ interests, such as Ocean City, may conflict with ours,” Director Colette Horn said at the time. “And I would like to hear, before we sign the contract, their plan on how they would handle such conflicts when and if they arise.”
After further discussion, Director Steve Jacobs made a motion last month to postpone the consideration of a new law firm until the board members could meet publicly with Ayres, Jenkins, Gordy & Almand and share their concerns regarding conflicts of interest. The motion failed in a 4-2 vote. A majority of the board then voted to approve and award a contract for legal services to the law firm of Ayres, Jenkins, Gordy & Almand.
Back on the agenda for discussion this week, Jacobs questioned if the board’s concerns and suggestions had been addressed in the contract.
“Yes, we forwarded that information to counsel earlier this week and those changes will be made,” Parks replied.
With no further discussion, the council voted 7-0 to approve the contract from Ayres, Jenkins, Gordy & Almand.