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Not Bad, in a Recession

November 23, 2009

Just as the collective dread mounts for the next legislative session – largely in view of the latest state revenue figures, that is – comes a weekend AJC headline informing us kindly, “State’s new water lawyer will make $855 an hour.”

Don’t worry – that’s a 10 percent discount off his normal rate of $950, the JournalConstitution’s Bill Rankin reports. The lawyer referenced here is Seth Waxman, called in recently to replace Paul Clement as the state’s lead attorney in its appeal of Judge Paul Magnuson’s July ruling in the tri-state water war.

Certainly these attorneys are specialists and their services are highly valuable, but the real question here is whether the state should continue to fight out its tri-state battles in court. As a  Georgia Water Coalition op-ed in the AJC way back in late July put it, “This expensive ‘strategy’ has cost Georgia taxpayers millions of our hard-earned dollars and has done little but make a couple of big law firms richer.”

Improving water efficiency in metro Atlanta would be a far more cost-effective way to increase water supply while also probably improving relationships with our neighbors in other states. But if our state’s leaders insist on paying the big bucks for legal strategies that look more and more questionable, let’s just hope folks remember it when the next round of budget-cutting arrives.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. November 23, 2009 2:38 pm

    Just found your blog via Twitter. Good stuff. I don’t know if Friday’s Atlanta Regional Commission event received a whole lot of press but they just launched a new water conservation initiative. Here’s a link to the website:

    If you’re ever looking for community conversations, visit

    Keep up the great work.


  2. Ed Griffin permalink
    November 23, 2009 3:05 pm

    As an attorney friend commented (and I heartily agree) “No attorney is worth that much money!” That’s even more true in these days when we’re furloughing our teachers for lack of funds. All for a battle that need not be fought in the first place.

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