Riverside County supervisors agreed Tuesday to a two-week delay in approving a list of law firms that the Office of County Counsel can use to make recommendations on who best to represent the county in complex cases that in-house lawyers are unable to handle.

The Department of Human Resources requested the postponement, apparently to make a modification to the list. The proposal is scheduled to be re-considered by the Board of Supervisors on Oct. 16.

“These (26) firms have represented many public entities across the state and have significant experience in diverse areas such as appellate law, civil rights, dangerous conditions, election law, employee relations, general government and taxation, just to name a few,” according to an HR statement.

The agency said the “pre-qualified list” would save county officials time in finding attorneys with specific expertise, without having to go through extensive vetting procedures.

The county’s Risk Management Steering Committee would take the lead in identifying which firm is appropriate for certain cases. The committee, which was formed over a year ago to mitigate the impact of lawsuits against the county, includes representatives from human resources, the Executive Office and the Office of County Counsel.

Any contract would be subject to board review and approval.

“Over the past four years, the amount and complexity of cases handled by the county counsel has increased substantially,” according to the HR department. “More specifically, the office is handling more risk management cases than ever before. The goal is to obtain the best, most cost-effective representation designed to achieve the optimal result for the County.”

The California Government Code grants local governing bodies authority to choose outside counsel when circumstances warrant.

Several of the 26 firms on the proposed list have been utilized by the county on multiple occasions in the past, particularly Riverside-based Best, Best & Krieger. The other firms are:

— Aarvig & Associates, Riverside;

— Arias & Lockwood, San Bernardino;

— Bent, Caryl & Kroll, Los Angeles;

— Burke, Williams & Sorensen, Santa Ana;

— Carpenter, Rothans & Dumont, Los Angeles;

— Collins, Collins, Muir & Stewart, Irvine;

— Disenhouse Law, Riverside;

— Ford, Walker, Haggerty & Behar, Long Beach;

— Ferguson, Praet & Sherman, Santa Ana;

— Greines, Martin, Stein & Richland, Los Angeles;

— Law Office of Henslee Smith, Orange;

— Hurrell Cantrall, Los Angeles;

— Law Office of Michael R. Kaiser, Palm Springs;

— Lawrence, Beach, Allen & Choi, Santa Ana;

— Lewis, Brisbois, Bisgaard & Smith, San Bernardino;

— Leibert, Cassidy & Whitemore, Los Angeles;

— Lynberg & Watkins, Orange;

— Manning, Marder, Kass, Ellrod, Ramirez & Trester, Irvine;

— Maranga Morgenstern, Woodland Hills;

— Renne Public Law Group, San Francisco;

— Rinos & Martin, Tustin;

— Smith Law Office, Riverside;

— Thompson & Colgate, Riverside;

— Woodruff, Spradlin & Smart, Costa Mesa; and

— Zappia Law Firm, Huntington Beach.

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