Office Overview & Organization
Since 1846, the City Attorney has been the lawyer for the City. The City Attorney is elected to serve a four-year term, representing the City, its officials, departments, boards, commissions and other agencies, including: the Milwaukee Board of School Directors (“MBSD”), the Redevelopment Authority of the City of Milwaukee (“RACM”), the Housing Authority of the City of Milwaukee (“HACM”), and the Neighborhood Improvement Development Corporation (“NIDC”). The Office of the City Attorney functions as a full service law firm for the City, and has earned the respect of the legal community as being a professional, high quality law office.
By City Charter, the Office of the City Attorney handles City litigation that includes thousands of lawsuits and administrative cases. Assistant City Attorneys litigate civil-rights cases, personal--injury actions, evictions razing cases, labor grievances, contract and construction cases, as well as condemnation and real estate matters. By charter, the office also provides legal advice and opinions to its clients, prepares and reviews City ordinances, resolutions, and opinions, drafts contracts and other legal documents that are required in conducting the business of the city, and prosecutes violations of City ordinances in Municipal Court.
In addition, the Office of the City Attorney collects claims and delinquencies and administers the City’s liability risk-management function and oversees five Special Purpose Accounts: Damages & Claims Fund, Outside Counsel/Expert Witness Fund, Insurance Fund, Collection Contract, and Receivership Fund. The Damages & Claims Fund pays for general liability judgments against the city. The Outside Counsel/Expert Witness Fund is used to retain outside counsel as well as special experts. The Insurance Fund pays city premiums for policies, such as property insurance, auto liability, and public officials bonds. The Collection Contract Fund is used to pay the commissions and fees of outside contractors to collect city receivables and municipal court judgments. The Nuisance Abatement Fund is used to fund expenses related to nuisance abatement and community prosecution.
The Office of the City Attorney is divided into four Legal Sections: Litigation/Employment/Benefits (LEB); Education/Development/Labor (EDL); Ordinance Enforcement/General Services (OE/GS); and Neighborhood Revitalization (NR). Each section consists of approximately 10 Assistant City Attorneys supervised by one of four Deputies. There is also an Administrative/Support Division consisting of approximately 25 support staff.
The LEB Section represents the Annuity & Pension Board and the Employes’ Retirement System, and handles Claims, Deferred Compensation, Personal Injury, Property Damages, Civil Rights Litigation, and Appeals.
The EDL Section handles Finance, Labor, Inter-Governmental Relations, Legislative Bills, School Board Counseling, the Department of City Development, Licensing, Library and Library Board, Tax Assessor, and Insurance.
The OE/GS Section handles Procurement Services, Public Records, Open Meetings, General Contracting, First Amendment, Public Utilities, Bankruptcy, Ordinance Enforcement, and represents the Department of Administration, the Department of Public Works, and the Treasurer's Office.
The NR Section handles Nuisance Abatement, Community Prosecution, Strong Neighborhoods Program, the Department of Neighborhood Services, Special Joint Committee on Abandoned & Foreclosed Properties, and Building and Zoning Enforcement.
The Administrative/Support Division provides legal support services to the attorneys as well as administrative support in the areas of office management, budget preparation, fiscal management, policy development, purchasing, HR, and systems and technology management.