Public Sector Law

Brann & Isaacson is privileged to represent public sector clients from across the state, including some of Maine’s largest cities and school systems, smaller towns and schools, and governmental and quasi–governmental agencies. Our attorneys are dedicated to providing the same degree of excellent service to each entity that we serve, large or small. We recognize that most public sector work takes place outside of traditional business hours, and that clients often require quick answers, which is why we pride ourselves on our responsiveness and availability. As one of Maine’s ten largest law firms, we are big enough to meet all of a public client’s needs, but small enough to ensure the personal attention, and relationship, that are so important.

Brann & Isaacson has the expertise to navigate quickly and efficiently all of the issues that municipalities face day–to–day. If a city or town deals with an issue regularly, so do we. On a daily basis, we address tax questions; interpret ordinances; negotiate and draft contracts; answer governance questions; assist with public relations issues; enforce land use, fire safety, and other ordinances; and answer the myriad other questions that routinely face our clients. Our attorneys avoid the highly technical legal opinions that are designed to protect the attorney more than assist the client. Instead, we pride ourselves on giving simple, practical advice that serves our clients’ best interests. We represent not only some of the largest cities in state that do not have full–time, in–house counsel, but also some of the smallest and newest towns in the state.

Where we really shine, however, is helping municipalities come up with creative solutions to the special challenges that face their communities. We are never afraid to forge new ground, and, thus, we successfully crafted and defended in court Maine’s first stormwater fee ordinance, paving the way for other municipalities across the state to manage more effectively the burden of ensuring that Maine’s waterways are protected. When the Town of Chebeague Island decided to break away from Cumberland, we shepherded them through the process of creating their own town. When the City of Auburn built a new ice arena, we were involved in all aspects of the project, from the TIFF, through the zoning and easement issues, to the blizzard of contracts necessary to consummate the deal. Whatever the challenge, Brann & Isaacson’s attorneys have the skill, expertise, and creativity to meet them.

For years, Brann & Isaacson has helped large and small school departments comply with the complex array of state and federal education laws. We have one of the largest school law practices in the state. We regularly assist with special education challenges, IEP team compliance, section 504 plan development, expulsion hearings, drafting policies and procedures, and general governance questions. We regularly handle FERPA, IDEA, ADA, section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, due process hearings, and other challenges before administrative and Department of Education hearing officers, and the courts. We have also developed a niche practice of assisting towns withdrawing from RSUs or other combined school governance structures. We have the experience, knowledge, and skill to negotiate the legal and political landmines that all of these issues can pose.

Brann & Isaacson has a long history of handling labor and employment matters for public employers, as well as some of Maine’s largest private companies. This includes dealing with the alphabet soup of federal and state discrimination, wage and hour, and other compliance statutes. We routinely handle compliance questions, discrimination complaints, and labor negotiations, including claims based on Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, FLSA, FMLA, COBRA, WARN Act, ADEA, ADA, EPA, and OWBPA, as well as parallel state statutes. CLICK HERE to learn more about our employment practice.

Additionally, we have significant expertise in addressing labor and employment issues that are unique to public sector clients. For example, we recognize that negotiating a collective bargaining agreement for public safety employees, while under the microscope of public scrutiny, is a very different exercise than negotiating contracts in the private sector. Similarly, handling public sector employment challenges in the tricky landscape created by the First Amendment, Due Process, and the Freedom of Access Act requires expertise and tact above and beyond that needed in the private sector, and Brann & Isaacson has taken that time to develop and hone that expertise and those skills.

Navigating Maine’s open meeting and freedom of information laws are not for the amateur, where exemptions, exceptions, and quirks abound. Public entities can easily get caught between balancing the public’s right to know on the one hand, and protecting the privacy and confidentiality of constituents or employees on the other hand. We have developed a detailed understanding of the ins and outs of Maine’s Freedom of Access. Furthermore, the growing number of privacy rules and statutes, including HIPAA, COPPA, and FACTA, only make compliance more challenging.  

Although we strive to advise clients to avoid litigation, when conflicts nevertheless arise, we pride ourselves on the ability to resolve many disputes without lengthy and expensive litigation. We have an experienced team of litigators to protect our clients’ interests before administrative agencies and in both state and federal court. Our attorneys regularly handle eminent domain and dangerous buildings proceedings, zoning and land use challenges, 80B appeals and 80K enforcement actions, impact fees, tax lien foreclosures, collection actions, subpoena defense, and other litigation that regularly affects our public sector clients.  CLICK HERE to learn more about our litigation practice.  

The best defense is a good offense, and having well educated board and committee members, elected officials, and staff is the first step. Brann & Isaacson lawyers regularly present on topics ranging from Freedom of Access Act concerns, to board governance, to employment and labor matters. In addition to presentations, we also prepare and review training materials for agencies, boards, and committees.

Brann & Isaacson provides representation to large and small cities and towns in Maine, including Auburn, Calais, Chebeague Island, Georgetown, Hartford, Lewiston, Lisbon, and Presque Isle.

Brann & Isaacson provides representation to numerous school districts, school boards, and school withdrawal committees, including AOS 43, Andover Withdrawal Committee, Athens Withdrawal Committee, Augusta School Department, Baldwin Withdrawal Committee, Bangor School Department, Byron Withdrawal Committee, Calais Withdrawal Committee, Calais School Department, Chebeague Island School Committee, Cherryfield Withdrawal Committee, Dixfield Withdrawal Committee, Eustis Withdrawal Committee, Freeport Withdrawal Committee, Hancock School Department, Harpswell Coastal Academy, Lamoine School Department, Lewiston School Department, Lincoln Academy, Monmouth Withdrawal Commission, Northern Penobscot Tech Region III, Otis School Department, Palermo Withdrawal Committee, RSU 73, SAD No. 31, SAD No. 41, SAD No. 75, Starks School Committee, and Veazie School Committee. 

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