School district hires new legal counsel for the first time in decades

Jan 30, 2024

Dartmouth Public Schools officially selected its new legal counsel at a Jan. 29 School Committee meeting. Legal firm Murphy, Hesse, Tommey and Lehane will provide legal counsel to the district, under lead attorney Kevin Bresnahan. 

Bresnahan and company are taking over for the district’s longtime attorney Walter Smith, who submitted his resignation in the fall. 

Smith’s retirement was a subject of the winter’s recent budget shortfall discussions, as he offered reduced rates to the school district for decades. Without him, legal costs for the administration will increase by an estimated 36%, according to the district’s proposed budget for fiscal year 2025. In particular, it estimates costs will increase from about $118,000 to $160,000. 

Legal services are just one of a number of costs increasing in the school department’s proposed budget. Transportation costs for 2025 recently rose by 26%, after the district’s proposed budget only estimated a 15% increase. The news follows a national trend caused by a bus driver shortage in communities across the Commonwealth, including locally in the South Coast.