Municipal lawyers have to be jacks-of-all-trades but don’t have the usual accompanying luxury of being master of none.
Their duties range from serving as a prosecutor to going over complicated agreements with developers. Douglas Hoffer thrives on the variety.
“Municipal work covers a wide variety and every day is something different,” said Hoffer, the assistant city attorney for the city of Eau Claire. “I also like that I’m able to give back to the community in the work that I do. With municipal law, everything you do benefits the community and serves a purpose.”
Hoffer first became interested in the field following a summer internship at a law firm that did a lot of municipal work. After graduating from law school, Hoffer worked at De La Mora & De La Mora in Elm Grove, a firm that represented a number of Milwaukee’s western suburbs. While there, he appeared before the state Supreme Court and successfully represented the village of Elm Grove. He joined the city of Eau Claire in 2013.
Hoffer said the variety keeps him on his toes.
“It’s hard to know everything about everything. Your knowledge is an inch deep, but a mile wide,” he said. “I’ve gotten very good at finding resources. There’s also a great network of municipal attorneys across the state that you can reach out to.”
The work can be difficult — especially when you’re up against an experienced, specialized attorney, Hoffer acknowledged.
“It takes a lot of work to represent a community,” he said. “But it’s very satisfying.”
Eau Claire City Attorney Stephen Nick said Hoffer has worked with him on a number of large projects involving urban development, the use of tax incremental financing, ordinance drafting and training to police and other employee groups.
“He’s an excellent and accomplished municipal lawyer, especially given the early stage of his career,” he said.
Besides his work for the city, Hoffer also frequently writes articles for publication and received a 2015 State Bar of Wisconsin Certificate of Commendation for his writing.
“I really enjoy what I do and it’s rewarding at the end of the day to know that your work benefits the community,” he said.