The $665,000 Question- Just the Facts

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By Dave Freneaux

Sheri Morris "is a tribute to the finest tradition of the legal profession".  Sheri Morris, in the creation of the City of Central, "guided Northeast Baton Rouge Citizens for Incorporation through a legal maze that might have challenged an entire team of older, more experienced lawyers who knew it couldn't be done."  Quotes from Woody Jenkins, Editor, Central City News.  Indeed most would agree that Mr. Jenkins has correctly assessed the talent and expertise of Ms. Morris.  The question these days seems to be whether Central gets its money's worth from the law firm Ms. Morris works for.  It would seem, based on her undefeated record in defending and prosecuting lawsuits for the Central Community and the glowing comments above, that Ms. Morris is eminently qualified and successful.
So now the $665,000 question, a figure that has been referred to no less than seven times in recent weeks to describe the work Ms. Morris has done in the Central Community.  First, understand that in this body of work M. Morris has represented not only the City of Central, but the Central Community School Board and the Central Transition District.  In all, this represents at least 10 combined years of legal representation involving three major lawsuits.  On average, Ms. Morris has represented these Central entities for less than $66,000 per year each.
To give perspective to this cost, contacted the Louisiana cities of New Iberia, Slidell, and Ruston.  The average populations of these cities is 26,288, which is smaller than Central's 27,000+.  The budget or actual expense for legal services, per year, in these cities is: Ruston $175,000, Slidell $398,756 and New Iberia $123,810, for an average of $232,522.  While no two cities can actually be a completely "apples to apples" comparison, Central's $66,000 annual average, compared to $232,522 per year in similarly sized cities, seems to be quite a bargain for a City Attorney who is, according to Mr. Jenkins, "a tribute to the finest tradition of the legal profession."