In 2014 six law firms responded to a Harbor District RFP for general legal counsel. On May 21, 2014 three of the six firms were recommended by then General Manager Peter Grenell to replace Aaronson, Dickerson, Cohn & Lanzone.
The following three firm were recommended by Peter Grenell and considered by the board of Harbor Commissioners:
- Mark C. Watson $185.00 per hour (Peter Grenell's personal attorney)
- BBK, Christopher J. Diaz $275.00 per hour
- Hanson Bridgett, Steven Miller, Partner $345.00 per hour
On June 4, 2014 Harbor Commissioners met at Sea Crest School in Half Moon Bay to discuss hiring a new law firm. Nothing was reported out of closed session.
After concerns were raised by Commissioner Brennan about an apparent conflict of interest regarding attorney Mark C. Watson and his business relationships with Peter Grenell and Commissioner Jim Tucker the board decided to hire Hanson Bridgett.
On June 18, 2014 Harbor Commissioners voted in open session to hire Hanson Bridgett.
- Agenda Item 5—Selection of Law Firm Hanson Bridgett LLP to Provide Legal Counsel Services & Approval of Contract 18:00
- Commissioner comments 19:48
Hanson Bridgett's rate ($345.00 per hour) is significantly higher than the rate Aaronson, Dickerson, Cohn & Lanzone charged ($190.00 per hour) the Harbor District.
Do the Math
Based on the above legal expense report it appears BBK would have saved the Harbor District almost $30,000. in general counsel legal fees from July 2014 through March 2015. BBK's hourly rate of $275.00 adds up to significant savings over time. Hanson Bridgett's hourly rate of $345.00 is above what the District can reasonably afford.