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Staff attorney strengthens county’s legal department

Washington County’s first staff attorney is on the job, and very happy to be there.
Brett N. Mayes recently relocated to the Gray area in what could be considered a homecoming. Having lived all over East Tennessee, Mayes said he has a lot of family in Washington County, and he and his wife previously resided in Johnson City.
“It’s an area we love, and we’ve missed it dearly,” he said. “We wanted to be back and settle here to raise our two daughters.”
Prior to accepting the position, Mayes was in Charleston, West Virginia, where he served as associate counsel for EnerVest Operating L.L.C., one of the 25 largest independent oil and gas companies in the country.
His first day in the Legal Services Office of Washington County was Aug. 17.
The staff attorney position was created following a restructuring of the county’s legal representation to enable the departments to better meet their obligations to citizens.
County Attorney Tom Seeley will continue to serve on a retainer basis and focus his efforts on litigation, serious employment issues and liability concerns.
As staff attorney, Mayes is a full-time employee who will manage the day-to-day responsibilities of county government with oversight from Seeley.
“I’m glad to have him available to bounce things off of, and I plan to use his experience to help me in this role,” Mayes said.
Serving as legal counsel for the different departments will have a lot of similarities to his position with EnerVest, Mayes said, though he is looking forward to moving into a different area of law.
“There is a wide range of issues that face local government, and I think it’s good to be exposed to a lot of different areas because it expands my ability as an attorney,” he said.
He also is pleased that experience is taking place in Washington County. “I think it’s nice to be able to have a job where you can assist a place you care about.”
Mayes had his first exposure to the county commission during the Aug. 24 meeting, which he said was very interesting. “I was impressed by the decorum of everyone there,” he noted. “It was a very civil atmosphere, and I think that’s good for the county.”
In only a short time in his role, Mayes said he has been surprised by the number of people he has met, which include numerous county officials and judges.
He looks forward to becoming more acclimated to what he believes is a good career move. “I’m really excited about the opportunity and glad to be back in the area.”