Law Firms

New York City asks junior attorneys to temporarily serve in understaffed agencies

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Understaffed New York City legal departments will borrow junior attorneys from eight large law firms for a year, according to a new initiative announced by Mayor Eric Adams on Wednesday.

As part of the New York City Legal Fellows Program, these attorneys will be considered full-time city employees and integrated into the legal departments of several city agencies, including the New York City Department of Investigation, the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice, the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs and the New York City Department of Education. They will continue to be employed by and paid by their firms during the appointments.

“The Legal Fellows Program will strengthen the partnership between the private and public sectors, lay the groundwork for a lifetime of civic support and engagement, and help put the talents of these dedicated lawyers to work by addressing some of the biggest challenges facing New Yorkers,” said Adams in a Nov. 2 press release.

Adams highlighted challenges arising from the COVID-19 pandemic and increase in migrants and asylum-seekers during a press conference introducing the program, according to Reuters.

“Our lawyers have been stretched thin making sure that they can keep up with the pace of the legal challenges that we were facing,” he said.

Brendan McGuire, Adams’ chief counsel, also spoke at the press conference, saying “the city has never needed lawyers more than it does today,” according to Reuters. He said, “there are currently hundreds of lawyer positions vacant.”

Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison; King & Spalding; Kirkland & Ellis; O’Melveny & Myers; Ropes & Gray; Shearman & Sterling; Simpson Thacher & Bartlett; and Willkie Farr & Gallagher plan to participate in the New York City Legal Fellows Program.

“Paul Weiss has a long history of public service, and we are thrilled to participate in this important initiative at a time when our city faces many urgent challenges,” said Brad S. Karp, chairman of Paul Weiss, in the press release. “We look forward to working with the mayor and his team to make this innovative public-private partnership a success for the city and for our law firm associates.”

The New York City Legal Fellows Program is part of Adams’ broader Legal Services Initiative.

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