Every year, the City and its agencies enter into an exceptionally broad array of contracts touching upon virtually every function of City government, ranging from contracts with private companies to build or repair bridges, water treatment plants, hospitals, courthouses, schools, and other parts of the City's infrastructure; to leases of important public properties, such as the South Street Seaport and the City airports; to contracts for goods and services, such as food for city prisons, school bus transportation and software development to support important City initiatives. Whenever litigation arises under one of these contracts, Commercial and Real Estate Litigation attorneys represent the public agencies involved. Such litigation may take the form of plenary actions in State or Federal Court, Article 78 proceedings or proceedings before the Contract Dispute Resolution Board. The Division’s cases raise complex contractual, statutory, and/or Constitutional issues, and often seek many millions of dollars and/or to annul a critical governmental decision. Division attorneys are frequently confronted with analytical, investigative, and strategic challenges, novel legal questions, sophisticated accounting issues and intriguing facts.
The diversity of contract disputes that come to the Division is a product of the City government's wide-ranging activities, both in the procurement of all types of goods and services and in the fast-paced world of real estate development in all five boroughs. City agencies also lease millions of square feet of commercial real estate, both as landlord and tenant; they also issue licenses to operate restaurants and other facilities on City property. Interesting title disputes are another area handled by the Division's real estate litigators. In addition to defending the City's interests, the Division also initiates proceedings and recovers substantial sums for the City. A Mortgage Foreclosure unit brings foreclosures in the event of default on City-issued mortgages and collects charges due the City in surplus proceedings and defensive lien foreclosure cases.
What New Attorneys Do
Attorneys joining the Division as first-year Assistant Corporation Counsels are assigned a varied caseload, handling actions, with the supervision of more senior attorneys, from beginning to end (prior to bar admission, pursuant to a student practice order). New attorneys investigate underlying facts, gather information from clients, interview witnesses, conduct legal research, develop case strategy and legal theories, draft affidavits and memoranda of law for motions, attend court conferences, and argue motions in court. First-year ACCs may be assigned as the primary counsel on various types of matters spanning the full spectrum of the Division’s work. They may also be assigned to a team, usually with one or more Senior Counsel, to handle complex construction or procurement-related cases or to prepare a case for trial. New attorneys gain valuable litigation experience, an in-depth knowledge of a diverse array of legal issues related to commercial and real estate litigation, and a unique understanding of how the City operates.
What Summer Interns Do
In the Commercial and Real Estate Litigation Division, Summer Honors Program interns work pursuant to a student practice order under the supervision of an attorney and defend lien cases and a variety of breach of contract and real estate actions brought against the City and its constituent agencies and entities. Law students prepare pleadings, conduct discovery, make and argue motions, and attend court conferences. Students also prepare discrete legal research memoranda, and may have an opportunity to observe arguments, conferences and trials and sit in at depositions and arbitrations.