General Litigation Division attorneys defend the City and its agencies in major cases challenging important City programs and policies, in areas such as constitutional rights, education, health care, public benefits, prison conditions, foster care, homelessness, day care, election law, and freedom of information law. This caseload offers Division lawyers unparalleled opportunities to develop and hone the full range of litigation skills while litigating vital, and often controversial, public policy issues that affect the lives of all New Yorkers. Division attorneys practice in both federal and State courts, arguing motions, participating in court conferences, taking and defending depositions, and trying cases. Cases handled by Division attorneys not only affect determinations made in the City's everyday governance and the manner in which legal mandates are met, but also can determine whether key City initiatives survive legal challenge. Many of these cases present issues at the forefront of developing legal theory.
In the General Litigation Division, new attorneys manage caseloads that require practice in multiple forums and span a wide range of legal issues. New attorneys litigate State administrative proceedings, State court actions and State court Article 78 proceedings (defending challenges to final administrative determinations), as well as federal court actions. Attorneys develop case strategies with their supervisors and other senior attorneys in the Division, but ultimately are responsible for handling their own cases on a day-to-day basis. Within their first year in the Division, attorneys may expect to argue motions in state and federal court, conduct depositions and other discovery activities, engage in settlement negotiations, and work with city agencies on compliance with statutes and court orders. In a typical day, a first-year attorney might argue against an order to compel a City agency to produce documents in a criminal proceeding, conduct representation interviews for a case involving alleged unconstitutional conditions of confinement at a City jail, and prepare for an upcoming oral argument on special education rights in federal court.
In the General Litigation Division, summer interns engage in nearly every aspect of the Division's casework. Interns are typically given at least one case that they will manage from inception, including analyzing the claims made against the City, strategizing with supervisory staff on how to approach the case, drafting the initial response, and, if the case demands, beginning the discovery phase. Interns can also expect to work closely with Division attorneys on more complex matters, performing legal research, preparing legal memoranda, and drafting motion papers. Interns will also have the opportunity to participate in and observe depositions, witness interviews and court appearances.
Read the Law Department's Annual Reports for More Information about the General Litigation Division