Public Sector Law

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Dickinson Wright represents public sector clients in a variety of matters and contexts, addressing the full panoply of municipal legal matters. From general city governing, to public finance issues, to large economic development projects, to the defense of litigation matters, we assist public entities across all practice areas.

As a full-service law firm, we draw upon the right experience for any given matter, ensuring our clients’ needs are resolved as quickly and efficiently as possible. When a client engages us to provide legal services, the client not only engages the collective experience of all of our attorneys, but the highly specialized concentrations we have developed throughout the firm’s other practice areas such as real estate, tax, bankruptcy, finance, intellectual property, labor and employment, and environmental. Whether on large-scale projects or day-to-day business transactions, we help our clients avoid costly mistakes and navigate even the most challenging circumstances.

Awards and Recognitions

Our lawyers have been recognized by Best Lawyers® and Super Lawyers® for their work in public sector law.

Our Services

General Counsel: We serve as general counsel to public organizations ranging from federal, state, county, city, and public agencies to authorities, schools, universities, and hospitals, advising on a full spectrum of matters that our public sector clients face, including:


  • Budgets & contracts 
  • Government compliance 
  • Conflicts of interest
  • Statutes, bylaws & amendment interpretation
  • E-Discovery & record retention policies
  • Public record laws
  • Elections Law
  • Environmental regulation
  • Utility & infrastructure development


Public Finance:  Our lawyers have served as bond counsel within all facets of financing municipal projects and programs for states, cities, counties, building authorities, county road commissions, various tax increment authorities, drainage districts, school districts, colleges and universities, airports, water and sewer utilities, public power agencies and the like.


Labor and Employment: We regularly advise on a full spectrum of employment and labor law issues, including:


  • Certifications
  • Continuing education
  • Minimum wage & wage deduction laws
  • Confidential employees
  • Pension Plan 403B/457
  • Conflict of interest
  • Personnel records
  • Progressive discipline
  • First Amendment rights
  • Resignations, terminations & layoffs
  • Gender identification
  • Workers' compensation


Real Estate: Our team regularly handles real estate sales and purchase transactions for public sector clients. Our work includes:


  • Construction permitting & regulation
  • Leasing & lease easements 
  • Development agreements
  • Liquor licensing
  • Government property lease excise taxes
  • Purchase & sale contracts
  • Impact fee agreements
  • Land acquisition & disposition
  • Workouts & Loan restructuring
  • Land use & zoning


Tax: Our tax lawyers work with public entities, government units, and agencies, and other special-purpose entities to ensure compliance with tax laws and regulations at federal, state, and local levels. We regularly advise on the tax ramifications of public operations, sales and use tax, litigation settlements, asset distributions, executive compensation, and a broad range of other activities.


Litigation: Understanding that litigation is costly and time consuming, we proactively address issues and assist our clients with establishing effective risk-avoidance strategies to avoid a trial. But, when action is necessary, our clients benefit from our aggressive and efficient approach to defending their interests in courts at the trial and appellate levels.

Representative Matters


Assisted counties, cities, villages, and townships in general municipal law issues including zoning, land use, planning, real estate, and water and sewer contracts; municipal utilities, economic development, tax increment financing, special assessments, school districts, public school academies, community colleges, tax appeals, and general litigation.


Represented governmental authorities and landowners regarding Environmental and Part 91 Soil Erosion permitting and development issues.


Successfully defended Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) claims surrounding the implementation of a modern roundabout and the nationally and internationally unique trial of "HAWK" signalization of roundabouts for visually impaired pedestrians.


Represented a large municipality, its council members, charter officers, several police officers, and members of the city attorneys’ office in two separate federal cases alleging, inter alia, violations of the First, Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitutions, and other state and federal laws.


Represented intermediate school districts, public schools, public school academies, and educational institutions in a range of issues including the regulation of student conduct, organizational liability, policy, and regulatory issues, and employment matters.


Represented community colleges and public universities in connection with policy formation and compliance with legal and funding requirements.


Represented a special district in appellate litigation involving a challenge to a transaction privilege tax under both the State and Federal Constitutions, as well as complex issues involving the allocation of any refund between the State and the district.


Acted as counsel for a major Midwest county stadium authority in the condemnation of 60 acres and 136 parcels for a baseball stadium and football field; tried 10 jury trials resulting in savings of more than $20 million.


Represented a major city in the negotiation and documentation of an arena lease and management agreement. During that process, the firm successfully defended the legality of the agreement after a taxpayers' interest group sought to have the agreement voided. The firm also successfully represented the city in relation to an attempted referendum election process brought to invalidate the agreement.

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