OL releases report about investigation into law firm

By Laura Bollin

Oak Lawn trustees voted unanimously Tuesday to release a report on the investigation into the billing practices of a law firm that once represented the village.

The details of the investigation by Godfrey and Kahn into former village counsel Tressler, Soderstrom, Maloney and Price had until Tuesday’s Village Board meeting been confidential because of a settlement between Tressler and Oak Lawn.

The board’s decision to make the report public was spurred by a Freedom of Information Act request filed by Oak Lawn resident Sandra Bury. The village had previously denied Bury’s request, however, Tressler decided not to fight against the report being released.

Tressler served as Oak Lawn’s law firm from November 2005 to September 2009, when it was fired for what a majority of trustees cited as rising legal fees and questionable billing practices. Oak Lawn’s legal bills tripled between 2005 and 2009. According to the settlement, the village paid more than $1 million to Tressler each year from 2006 to 2009.

The village and Tressler reached a settlement in April, with the law firm extending to the village $500,000 in compensation. As part of the settlement, the village paid Tressler $50,000 and the firm forgave a payment of $46,360. The settlement also called for Oak Lawn to receive $20,000 from Cannon Cochran Management Services, a law firm that worked with the village in July 2007 as a third-party administrator.

Bury on Tuesday said she is happy the board released the report. The optometrist, who has announced she will run for mayor against incumbent Dave Heilmann in next spring’s election, and several other residents applauded after the board voted to release the report.