There shall be a Town Solicitor who shall be appointed by the Council upon formal application, upon the basis of his/her qualifications, and after a merit interview with the Council. The Solicitor shall serve for an indefinite term and shall not be discharged, except upon a majority vote of the Council. Assistant Town Solicitors shall be appointed by the Council as set forth herein, to serve for a term concurrent with that of the Council and until their successors are appointed and qualified.
The Solicitor and any Assistant Solicitors shall be attorneys-at-law in good standing who have been admitted to the practice of law in this state. The Solicitor and Assistant Solicitors shall be graduates of an accredited law school and shall have been in practice in the State of Rhode Island for a minimum of five years.
The Solicitor and any assistant solicitors need not be required to devote full time to the duties of their office and shall receive such compensation, either on a salary or fee basis, as the Council may determine.
The Town Solicitor shall be attorney for the Town and legal advisor to the Council, Manager, and all other officers, departments and agencies of the Town. He shall appear for and protect the rights of the Town in all actions, suits or proceedings, civil or criminal, in law or equity, brought by or against it or any of its officers, departments or agencies, and shall perform such other duties as the Council may require.
The Town Solicitor shall examine and approve the forms of all ordinances and resolutions and the forms of all invitations for bids, contracts and other legal documents sent out by any department, office or agency of the Town.
Once qualified, solicitors can work in private practice, in local or in the court service. The actual work carried out varies depending on the setting, the Solicitor's specialist area and the nature of the case. In general, however, tasks can include taking the Town Council's instructions, drafting documents, letters and contracts tailored to the needs of the Town of Westerly and the Town Council, negotiating together with the Town Council and other professionals and/or organizations to secure agreed objectives, supervising the implementation of agreements, coordinating the work of all parties involved, including Town Solicitors who are assigned to various Town boards, and instructing other attorneys or specialist advocates to appear in court for the Town in complex matters and disputes, arranging and attending further Town Council meetings where necessary to progress with the case and finalize documentation, and, in his or her capacity as Town Solicitor, his or her role is advisory, except that, as an Officer of the Court, the Town Solicitor must take the appropriate action when he or she becomes aware of, has knowledge of, or otherwise observes a violation of federal law, state statute, Town ordinance and Town Charter, subject to and only insofar as such duties are not inconsistent with the Solicitor's obligations as set forth by the Rhode Island Supreme Court Rules of Professional Responsibility.
All written legal opinions furnished to the Council, the Manager and all departments, offices and agencies of the Town together with the resolution, letter, or other memorandum requesting the opinion, shall be filed with the Town Clerk in accordance with prescribed procedures.