By Anna Lothson
The first round of applications for Oak Park village attorney yielded 58 candidates, taking the hiring process to the next step.
That number could rise, however, since Oak Park sent out the job status indicating applications could be taken until the position is filled. Application reviews began April 8 and the number of candidates is expected to be narrowed down by Slavin Management Consultants, the group tasked to recruit the village attorney.
The process involves initial interviews with Slavin before a select number will be referred on to Oak Park leaders for further review. Depending on the success of the interviews, Village Manager Cara Pavlicek anticipates a candidate being chosen by late May or early June.
"Everything is on schedule," Pavlicek said in an interview Monday. She indicated that the 58 applications is a "moving target" and more can still apply. Because Oak Park used a national search firm, Pavlicek said the job posting attracted candidates from outside the state. If a lawyer from outside Illinois was chosen, he or she would, of course, have to be qualified to practice law in the state.
Currently, the only attorney employed by the village government is Simone Boutet, who has been acting village attorney since Ray Heise retired in June 2011. Oak Park Village Code allows for a village attorney and two assistant village attorneys. No assistant spots have been filled since Boutet stepped up into the acting role.
Listed among the experience and training guidelines outlined in the recruitment document is: "seven years of increasingly responsible experience in municipal or related government law, including trial experience, a Juris Doctorate from an accredited law school and membership in the State Bar of Illinois."
The village's attorney also coordinates work with outside agencies and outside legal counsel in large part to handle the vast workload that comes into the village's legal department. It hasn't been decided how the legal department's structure might change once a permanent village attorney has been hired.
Pavlicek said once a village attorney has been named, it would be determined through the 2014 budget process if additional assistant village attorneys would be hired or if the village would continue to use outside firms.