The City government participates extensively in New Yorkers' daily lives. It has built and maintains a vast network of roads, bridges, parks, public buildings, and other public facilities. The City and its agencies provide essential urban services, such as police protection, firefighting, sanitation operations, education through public schools and colleges, and health care through public hospitals. The City also employs about 200,000 people. This provision of facilities, services, and employment (far beyond what any private entity would undertake) exposes the City to wide tort liability. The Tort Division is the Law Department's largest. It employs over 200 lawyers and almost as many support staff. The Division represents the City, its Department of Education, and its Health and Hospitals Corporation in all tort claims. It handles an enormous caseload – over 7,000 new suits each year, with another 33,000 pending - through vigorous investigation, zealous defense before State and Federal courts, and, when appropriate, settlement.
The Division maintains local offices in all five boroughs. It also has special units, such as the Early Intervention Unit, which seeks to resolve meritorious cases as quickly and economically as possible; the Special Litigation Unit, which handles high-exposure cases and unusually controversial matters; the World Trade Center Unit, which handles cases arising from the Sept. 11th terrorist attacks; and the Risk Management Unit, which identifies risks and tries to eliminate accidents before they happen.