December 7, 2021 @ 1:00 pm - 2:00 pm
Ethics: The Local Government Attorney’s Role as a Competent Advisor
Description: One of the primary functions and a day-to-day responsibility of a local government attorney is providing advice. All attorneys advise clients, but the advice a local government attorney gives the local government governing body, boards, commissions, and staff affects an entire community and in a broader sense, our society. This presentation examines the interplay of ABA Model Ethics Rules 1.1 (Attorney Competence) and 2.1 (Attorney’s Role as Advisor) and how those rules affect local government attorneys regular professional life when advising governing bodies and staff, including the need to: (1) Be straightforward; (2) present other considerations beyond strictly technical legal advice; and (3) consider the timing and process of offering advice.
Speakers: Cathy Cunningham, Judge Rodney D. Adams, and Roger Horner
Judge Rodney D. Adams is the Presiding Municipal judge of the Municipal Court of Irving, Texas, a suburban city with the most diverse zip code in the United States. He was appointed a Municipal Judge in October, 2008, then as Chief Judge in October, 2010. He is the first African-American judge, then Presiding Judge ever appointed in Irving, Texas. He is a former prosecutor, and Senior Assistant City Attorney with the City of Irving, Texas. Overall, he has been a practicing attorney for twenty-five years. He attended Texas Wesleyan University School of Law (now Texas A&M University School of Law). He was also a founding member of the former Texas Wesleyan Law School Alumni Board of Directors. He presently sits on the Board of the new Texas A&M School of Law Alumni Association. Further, Judge Adams serves as a board member of the Board of Governors of the American Judges Association (AJA); the Irving Employees Supplemental Benefit Plan, and the Irving Behavioral Health Leadership Team. In 2016, Judge Adams was chosen by the Texas Municipal Courts Association (TMCA), an organization of over 1,400 judges, court administrators, and clerks as the TMCA 2016 Outstanding Jurist. He previously held membership in the Eldon B. Mahon Inn of the American Inns of Court, and the United States Supreme Court Historical Society. He taught as an adjunct professor of Criminology at the University of Texas at Arlington, and is a member of the Texas Municipal Courts Education Center faculty, as well. He also sits on the Irving Independent School District’s Law Advisory Committee.
Prior to law school, Judge Adams built an eleven-year career in public administration at the municipal and federal levels having served with the Cities of San Antonio, Austin, and Fort Worth, and the United States Commission on Civil Rights. He also served his country as a VISTA volunteer. He received an undergraduate degree in Political Science from the University of Houston; then received a Masters degree in Urban Studies from Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas where he was an Urban Fellow. He is a member of the Bar of the United States Supreme Court, and also a member of the Potters House Church of Dallas, Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc., Delta Theta Phi Law Fraternity, a Connecting Link of Links, Inc., a certified Lay Speaker, guest lecturer, and author.
Cathy Cunningham joined Practical Law with more than thirty years of municipal law experience. Most recently, Cathy was in private practice at Boyle & Lowry, LLP, where she advised municipal and special district clients on matters including utility and right-of-way, zoning and land use, personnel, code enforcement, and budget and tax. Previously, she was a Senior Attorney in the Irving, Texas City Attorney’s Office, where her activities were later recognized by the Texas House of Representatives with a Resolution and a flag in honor of her public service. Before that, Cathy worked for the City Attorney’s Office for the City of Abilene, Texas.
Roger Horner joined Practical Law after more than three decades in local government. Most recently, he was the City Attorney for Brentwood, Tennessee, where he advised the City Manager, City Commission, and all City boards and departments. Prior to that, he served as Brentwood's Finance Director, and previously was a financial analyst for the Tennessee Public Service Commission. He is a past president of the Tennessee Municipal Attorneys Association (TMAA) and received TMAA's Distinguished Municipal Attorney Award in 2018. He is a former member of the Board of Directors for the International Municipal Lawyers Association (IMLA) and a Fellow of the Tennessee Bar Foundation.