Legal Counsel

The Legal Counsel Division is a counseling unit that advises the Mayor, other elected officials, and City agencies on issues concerning virtually every area of municipal law. The Division provides the legal advice and crafts the legislative changes necessary to shape and implement policy initiatives. The Division is responsible for drafting State and local legislation proposed by the Mayor and City agencies and for assisting in the drafting of administrative rules. On a daily basis, Division attorneys field questions from City Hall and City agencies on issues of overriding importance to the City as well as those regarding day-to-day administration. Responding to such questions frequently involves analyzing the relevant legal scope of authority for the City to act in a particular area. Legal Counsel attorneys regularly assist in determining whether a proposed City action or policy complies with all applicable laws and advise on how to address a given problem while minimizing legal risk. Division attorneys also often represent the Law Department on interagency task forces considering policy initiatives and work closely with the Mayor's Office in analyzing federal, state and local legislation.

There are a few specialized areas of law on which one or a few attorneys in the Legal Counsel Division focus. The Chief Ethics Officer is responsible for counseling and training City attorneys in a wide array of legal ethics and professional responsibility matters. The Pensions group provides advice and counseling to the City’s five retirement systems and each system’s Board of Trustees. The division’s grants and compliance work entails advice and counseling to ensure lawful claiming and expenditure of federal and State financial aid and representation of the City before federal and State oversight entities. The Records Access Officer is responsible for the Law Department’s obligations under the Freedom of Information Law. Finally, the division provides advice and counsel related to telecommunications, franchises and revocable consents as well as emerging technological issues in general.

What New Attorneys Do

New attorneys in the Legal Counsel Division work together with senior attorneys in the Division and the Law Department executive staff to advise City agencies, the Mayor and other elected officials with respect to policy initiatives and pending federal, state and local legislation. They assist with drafting and reviewing legislation and local rules and participate in meetings with City officials regarding legislation and other initiatives. New attorneys research, analyze and advise on a wide range of municipal law issues, focusing on areas such as education, health, civil rights, the environment, transportation, privacy, land use, housing and the powers and duties of elected officials.

What Summer Interns Do

Interns in the Legal Counsel Division conduct research on an array of legal issues in order to assist in advising clients, including the Mayor’s office or other city agencies. Their work product may be presented in formal memos, more informal writings or orally. Interns may attend meetings with Law Department attorneys and City officials and/or public hearings related to their work. The subjects addressed by the Legal Counsel division vary widely and interns have the opportunity to experience many different areas of municipal law.

Read the Law Department's Annual Reports for More Information about the Legal Counsel Division