Orland Township Super, Law Firm Founder Disagree On Firing Reason
Communication problem or retaliation? Why Odelson and Sterk aren’t representing Orland Township any more all depends on who is asked.
Paul O’Grady, township supervisor, said Thursday that the firm was let go because of “communications problems,” and that they were holdovers from the last township board. O’Grady didn’t specify when during the three years that the current township board has been in place that such issues were first noticed.
“They were the prior board’s attorneys and we’re going in a new direction,” he said.
The announcement was the first Burt Odelson, founding partner of the Evergreen Park-based firm, said he had heard of any problems with representing the township. He said he believes his firm was dismissed for a different reason, namely the just-as-recent addition of a new lawyer to Odelson and Sterk.
Odelson led the investigation into the firing of the former village attorneys -- Tressler LLP -- whom he alleges overbilled the Village of Oak Lawn during its tenure from 2005 to 2009.
O'Grady, the Orland Township supervisor, is the Oak Lawn Village Board's legal counsel for Querrey and Harrow, Oak Lawn's village attorneys.
According to a Feb. 16 posting on Crain’s Chicago Business, Michael B. Stillman became a partner at Odelson and Sterk, after serving as a managing partner with regional firm Querrey and Harrow – the firm where O’Grady works as an attorney.
“I cannot name one instance where we weren’t responsive to them,” Odelson said Thursday. “We answered every call and we believed they were very happy with us. This is 100 percent in retaliation for Stillman coming to our firm.”
O’Grady said Stillman’s move had nothing to do with the decision to let go of Odelson and Sterk.
“It seemed like we were not considered a top-tier priority client,” O’Grady said. “Mike went over there for professional reasons and I wish him well. He was a good partner.”
Odelson said over the course of about 15 years of representing the township, their legal fees to the government unit were kept under $14,000 a year. He added that Orland Township was treated with the same responsiveness as their roughly 20 other municipal, school and township clients.
“This was just a political deal,” Odelson said. “It has nothing to do with our performance. We consider all our clients top priority.”
O’Grady was quoted in a Sun Times Media article saying Del Galdo Law Group in Berwyn, who were chosen to assume the township’s legal representation, offered a similar fee structure as Odelson and Sterk.
“I had read about them in the paper, and how they’re part of reforms over at the (Orland) Fire Protection District,” O’Grady said about what led to taking on Del Galdo. “That’s what we’re trying to accomplish.”