Maplewood, as a city and governmental unit, is a great consumer of legal services. In order to provide the services and regulatory schemes it does, the city has to be cognizant of many laws, whether its own, the county's or the state's. Interpreting those laws, regulations and statutes is the job of the City Attorney. Staff relies on the opinion of its attorney to develop its own procedures or to simply do its work in compliance with the law. Since cities are responsible for so much, the assistance of counsel is usually of considerable benefit to staff who just want to know, "what the law is."
The City Attorney also attends meetings of the City Council, and other governmental bodies of the city, to be available for council and staff to ask questions to on items of business or to clarify legal matters that come up from time to time. The City Attorney assists staff in drafting its own laws (called Ordinances in Maplewood) and advising about legal issues that affect the way the city does its job.
The City Attorney will also represent the city in "court" on civil matters affecting the city. Typical cases include boundary disputes, intergovernmental matters or other civil action where the city is a named party.
Another critical part of the City Attorney's job is to help develop, negotiate and review contracts that the city enters into, typically with third-party providers or developers wishing to construct buildings in the city.