The Iowa State Association of Counties Board of Directors has adopted the following policy to establish the procedures to be followed by association legal staff when responding to requests for legal information by county officials.
The ISAC Board has determined that providing legal information is a valuable service to our members and legal staff has been directed to make every effort to respond to information requests in a timely and accurate manner. However, members should not expect an immediate answer to their legal questions. In order to provide the best possible answer, ISAC legal staff may need time to conduct legal research and/or discuss the question with others.
The ISAC Board also wants members to understand that the information provided to county officials by members of our legal staff is not to be considered legal advice and is not a substitute for consulting their county attorney. ISAC legal staff has expertise on various county related issues and staff members can answer day-to-day questions or may offer suggestions on long-term solutions to major challenges. Since the answer to a legal question may depend on local variables or circumstances not known to the ISAC legal staff, county officials should not act on information provided without consulting their county attorney.
The county attorney has the responsibility to provide legal advice and representation to county officials. For these reasons, ISAC staff will remind county officials that they should seek the advice of their county attorney prior to taking any action. However, ISAC’s legal staff may respond to association members’ questions or issues presented that involve questions of law. If this occurs, ISAC legal staff may request that the question from the county official be submitted in writing for consideration and research. ISAC legal staff shall ask whether this information may be shared with the county attorney in helping to determine the appropriate response to the inquiry.
Legal information services are offered to provide general guidance to county officials. ISAC’s provision of such services shall not be deemed to constitute the giving of legal advice or the rendering of legal services, and shall not be deemed to create an attorney-client relationship between the county or county official and ISAC. ISAC will, to the best of its ability, attempt to protect and preserve the confidences of individuals seeking legal information, but makes no representation as to the confidentiality of matters presented to it for review. ISAC legal staff may provide copies of our response to questions or inquiries for legal information to the county attorney as a matter of professional courtesy.
Member counties or county officials wishing to seek legal representation through the association should contact the ISAC General Counsel for a copy of the ISAC Litigation Policy.