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ATRA Welcomes Georgia AG’s Transparency Order
Reform Shines Light on State Contingency Fee Contracts with Private Sector Attorneys
Washington, DC, May 29, 2012 -- Applauding an Administrative Order announced today by Georgia’s attorney general, American Tort Reform Association president Tiger Joyce said “the good-government measure promotes greater transparency and accountability.”
Joyce said, “Attorney General Sam Olens has been a true leader in Georgia and nationally on the need to set uniform standards for state hiring and management of outside contingency fee counsel.
“With increasing regularity, state attorneys general have hired personal injury lawyers from the private sector to perform legal work for their states, and hundreds of millions of dollars in contingency fees have sometimes been at stake,” Joyce continued. “General Olen's order recognizes the discretion and independence needed to enforce state laws free from the influence of parties that may have a private interest in the outcome of litigation.”
Among other things, the order requires:
- The attorney general to offer written certification of the need to hire outside counsel on a contingency fee basis,
- All contingency fee contracts with outside counsel and details of payments pursuant to such contracts be posted promptly on the office of the attorney general’s website,
- Strict oversight by the attorney general’s office of all litigation undertaken by outside counsel, including all important decision-making, such as with respect to settlement negotiations, and
- Any proceeds from litigation performed by outside counsel, not counting contracted fees, be paid directly to the state agency involved in the litigation or otherwise into the State Treasury for appropriate disposition through the regular appropriations process.
“Credit goes to the attorney general for his commitment to Georgians who deserve to know precisely for what and by whom the state’s money is being spent. We are hopeful that General Olen's leadership on this issue signals the Georgia General Assembly to act on the need to codify his important Administrative Order into statute so its commonsense provisions last beyond his tenure,” concluded Joyce.