Government CenterRoom 44017 South Seventh StreetAllentown, Pa. 18101-2400Phone: 610-782-3180Fax: 610-871-2796
Department of Law
The Department of Law is a full-service legal office providing advice and representation to all three branches of County government – Executive, Legislative, and Judiciary, as well as the Sheriff, the Coroner, the Clerk of Judicial Records, the District Attorney, and the Controller. The Department also represents the County’s Board of Elections, Retirement Board, and Agricultural Preservation Board.
County Executive Phillips M. Armstrong appointed David M. Backenstoe, Esq. as the Lehigh County Solicitor in January 2022. Attorney Backenstoe was confirmed by the Lehigh County Board of Commissioners on January 26, 2022. Prior to being appointed as Solicitor, Attorney Backenstoe served as a part-time Assistant Solicitor for the County for 10 years. Attorney Backenstoe has practiced law in the Lehigh Valley for over 30 years and brings a wealth of knowledge to the Department as he represents a number of municipal entities throughout the Lehigh Valley.
Sarah M. Murray, Esq. and Eman H. Jarrah, Esq. both serve as full-time Deputy Solicitors in the Department of Law, handling day-to-day matters involving Lehigh County. Part-time Assistant Solicitors include Samuel E. Cohen, Esq., Kerry S. Freidl, Esq., Elizabeth M. Kelly, Esq., E. Keller Kline, Esq., Joshua S. Mazin, Esq., Lucas J. Repka, Esq., Catharine M. Roseberry, Esq., Stuart T. Shmookler, Esq., and Charles F. Smith, Jr., Esq. Key staff in the Department also include Jennifer L. Michener and Megan R. Yarashas.
The services provided include the preparation, review, and interpretation of all contracts, the defense of litigation in state and federal court involving the County and its representatives, representation of the County in real estate tax assessment appeals, collection of debts owed to the County, and advising the County on diverse matters involving employment, civil rights, real estate, procurement, emergency management, nursing homes, intergovernmental relations, and human services.
The Department drafts or reviews legislation and related materials for the Board of Commissioners and prepares all of the materials required for each month’s Sheriff’s Sale of real estate.
In addition, Lehigh County’s Open Records Officer is part of the Department of Law. Valerie Hildebeitel is the Open Records Officer and receives and responds to requests for records and ensures the County’s compliance with record-keeping requirements under the Right-to-Know Law.