The Bucks County Law Department serves as the general counsel for the Board of Commissioners and all divisions and departments serving under their direction. The Law Department also represents the County and its subdivisions and employees in litigation and other proceedings.
In 2020, the Board of Commissioners revamped the Law Department (formerly known as the Solicitor’s Office) to reflect the Board’s commitment to integrity, efficiency, and good government. Under the leadership of County Solicitor Joe Khan, the County’s first fulltime Solicitor, the Law Department is now staffed by fulltime attorneys who take a constitutional oath of office upon their appointment and paralegals with diverse and substantial portfolios.
Since the Department’s reorganization, these professionals have helped the County accomplish several key goals, including:
- Enforcing Pennsylvania’s Environmental Rights Amendment through legal action, including litigation to prevent fracking and a lawsuit against PFAS manufacturers;
- Drafting and implementing Pennsylvania’s first countywide ordinance regulating massage parlors to fight human trafficking;
- Drafting and implementing the Bucks County False Claims Ordinance and updated whistleblower policy to combat fraud, waste and abuse;
- Drafting Bucks County’s Fair Chance and Equal Pay hiring policies to redress inequality;
- Negotiating a historic class action settlement that reduced a potentially catastrophic liability and enabled the creation of the Pardons & Expungement Unit in the Bucks County Public Defender’s Office;
- Building coalitions with other counties to protect the right to vote and other public interests;
- Proposing and implementing prison reforms to protect inmates, workers, and the general public;
- Substantially reducing the County’s spending on outside counsel;
- Providing the public with online access to all County ordinances to promote transparency; and
- Creating the County’s Continuing Legal Education program.
The Law Department now handles a large variety of matters which were previously outsourced to private law firms, including representing the County in major civil litigation, litigating court and administrative hearings on behalf of the Children & Youth Social Service Agency, and providing legal counsel to the Bucks County Planning Commission. The Law Department now reviews and helps negotiate contracts within the County’s $475 million budget as well as those supported by ARPA and CARES Act funding. The Department also ensures the County’s compliance with a wide array of laws and regulations, including the Americans with Disabilities Act, Pennsylvania’s Right to Know Law and Sunshine Act, and the Bucks County Responsible Contractor Ordinance. The Departments’ attorneys participate in various public meetings, including the Board of Commissioner meetings, at which the County Solicitor attends, presents, and provides counsel.