By Brian Messenger
---- — METHUEN — A dozen people have applied to be the next city solicitor and city councilors will begin the process of selecting finalists for Methuen’s top legal post this week.
City Council Chairman Sean Fountain said councilors also must decide whether to appoint an interim solicitor before a permanent hire is made. A special meeting could be held this week to discuss the matter, he said.
“We may appoint somebody interim while the process is being conducted,” said Fountain. “We’re just looking at trying to do what’s best for a smooth transition.”
The search for a new city lawyer was triggered Jan. 7 when the City Council voted 5-4 against reappointing City Solicitor Peter McQuillan to a two-year term. An opening for the job was posted on the city’s website four days later and then advertised in area newspapers.
Applicants had until Friday to send their resumes to City Hall. Fountain said the 12 applications were then sealed in an envelope. They will be reviewed for the first time either tomorrow or Thursday by a search committee made up city councilors and local lawyers.
Fountain said the search committee will perform reference and background checks before trimming the field to what will most likely be five finalists. Those finalists will then be interviewed by the full City Council before a hiring decision is made.
The next city solicitor will make between $87,390 and $113,144 per year, depending on experience. Applicants must be members in good standing with the Massachusetts Board of Bar Overseers and have a minimum five years experience in municipal law.
The city is also seeking applicants with experience in a municipal law department and excellent writing and verbal skills.
Fountain said no deadline has been set for applicant interviews or a hiring date.
“Hopefully we can move things right along,” said Fountain. “We don’t have any projected dates yet.”
Four councilors are on the search committee: Fountain, Jennifer Kannan, Tom Ciulla and Lisa Ferry. Councilor Jamie Atkinson was recently dropped from the committee because a meeting of five city councilors is considered a quorum.
Also on the committee are local lawyers Arthur Broadhurst and Bryan Chase. Broadhurst is a former state representative and current member of the Methuen Housing Authority board and Nevins Memorial Library board of trustees. Chase has a law office in Haverhill.
McQuillan has worked as city solicitor since 2005 and makes $113,144 per year. He will stay on board until a successor or interim is named. If the council opts to name an interim solicitor, Fountain said it will not be one of the applicants for the permanent job.