Johnston County school board attorney Jimmy Lawrence resigned suddenly on Friday. In a letter to school board chairman Todd Sutton, Mr. Lawrence said he was resigning effective immediately as the attorney for the Board of Education.
Mr. Lawrence said, “I have been advised that the Board of Education is exploring other options for legal services, including in-house legal counsel. I respect their decision. Therefore, I feel that it is time for me to reassess my legal practice and move away from doing work for the school system.”
Lawrence said he would continue his private practice with his law firm assisting people with legal and education issues. Lawrence said he would be glad to assist the school board during the transition to a new legal counsel.
Chairman Sutton released a statement from the school board Friday afternoon stating, “The Johnston County Board of Education today received a letter of resignation from Board Attorney James R. Lawrence Jr. Effective today, Mr. Lawrence no longer serves as the attorney for the Board of Education. As announced at our February 11th meeting, the Board has established a Legal Services Committee to explore whether to continue contracting with outside legal counsel or to hire an in-house lawyer to meet the school district’s legal needs. The committee’ work is underway.
Since July 1, 2015, Mr. Lawrence has been paid $1,333,587.38 for legal services. During the 2015-16 fiscal year he was paid $275,050.74. In 2016-17 he received $275,090.00 and in 2017-28 was paid 293,203.48. During the 2018-19 fiscal year, Lawrence received $314,188.16. From July 1, 2019 to January 29, 2020 he has been paid $176,055.00 for legal services. During the same time period Tharrington, Smith, L.L.P has been paid $392,430.21 for attorney fees.