City Attorney: Audrey E. Vance
In order to fulfill the obligations of government and keep city offices running smoothly, all city governments need the services of attorneys. As a small to medium sized city with its “Government Lite” philosophy, Bonita Springs has two attorneys to advise city officials and staff with their day-to-day functioning and represent the city in the following capacities:
Advising – The city attorney, or her assistant, attends department and board meeting of the various city agencies to answer questions of city officials as they arise. Since the functions of city departments are varied, each are assigned tasks. For example, Assistant City Attorney Joseph Faerber handles Code Enforcement matters.
Document Preparation – The City Attorney helps conduct the business of government by preparing legal documents. City attorneys help draft ordinances, contracts, agreements, regulations, and other necessary documents. They use their legal training to draft documents in a way that makes the rights and obligations of the city, its citizens and its goods and services providers clear in order to avoid later misunderstandings and unnecessary litigation.
Litigation – In order to conduct the business of government, it is sometimes necessary to defend or file lawsuits. For example, if a private service provider has not fulfilled his contract with the city, the department who hired him may decide to sue. Trial lawyers are generally retained to handle lawsuits, under the supervision of the City Attorney who monitors the case closely. Bonita Springs has been sued or named in a lawsuit for a variety of reasons. Many times the insurance carrier assigns an attorney, who once again, works closely with the City Attorney. Depending on the type of case, outside lawyers are either retained or the City Attorney’s Office handles the case using its in-house counsel.
Community Outreach – Although the city attorney does not provide legal services to the public–their attorney-client relationship is with the city itself—the City Attorney will assist residents with informational services to assist the residents in finding other legal assistance, as well as obtaining various city services.
Audrey E. Vance, City Attorney
Joseph Faerber, Assistant City Attorney
Dolly Gresh, Legal Assistant
Audrey Vance is a Florida native, practicing law in Lee County since 1988. She received her Bachelor’s of Science, with Honors, from the University of Florida, College of Liberal Arts & Sciences, in Environmental Sciences and her Juris Doctorate (law degree) at the University of Miami in 1988. Ms. Vance began her career as an Assistant State Attorney for the State Attorney’s Office . She worked for over ten years at the Lee County Attorney’s Office. In June of 2000, the Bonita Springs City Council chose Ms. Vance to serve as their interim City Attorney, offering her the regular City Attorney position in October of that year. Since that time, Ms. Vance has been responsible for all aspects of the legal needs of the City of Bonita Springs.
Ms. Vance has been active in organizations promoting professionalism in local government law. She has served on the Florida Bar’s City County and Local Government Certification Committee, serving as its Chair in 2004-05, and is on the Board of Directors for the Florida Municipal Attorney’s Association (FMAA). She lives with her husband and their two sons in Bonita Springs, after moving from Fort Myers to the home they built in Bonita Springs in 1998.