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A little more than a month after stepping down as Philadelphia city solicitor, Nelson A. Diaz has rejoined his former firm, Blank Rome. This past Monday, Diaz returned as a partner to concentrate on litigation, alternative dispute resolution, and public and affordable housing. In addition, Diaz said he would add a government relations component to his repertoire now that Blank Rome has a government relations subsidiary in Washington, D.C. Diaz said that although he looked at seven law firms as potential destinations, his 25-year relationship with Blank Rome chairman David Girard-diCarlo was key in his ultimate decision to rejoin the firm. “I think a big difference was that Blank Rome talked about what it could do for my career,” Diaz said, while other firms talked about how much money he could make. “And with the [subsidiary], I think I can expand on what I was doing for the firm before,” he said. Blank Rome managing partner Fred Blume said the firm would be aided by Diaz’s experience, skill and business connections. But he said he expected Diaz to spend a good deal of time working with the government relations subsidiary, where his reputation as one of the country’s most respected Hispanic lawyers and his time as a judge, city solicitor, and general counsel for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development should all be beneficial. “Everyone’s excited about Nelson coming back,” Blume said. Diaz spent five years as a Blank Rome partner before becoming city solicitor in December 2001. Many attorneys were surprised that someone of Diaz’s stature and experience was willing to take a pay cut and head back into the grueling world of public life after landing a job at one of the city’s most profitable and largest law firms. But Diaz said his perspective on the world changed after the events of Sept. 11, especially because his wife was in New York at the time of the attacks. Among his accomplishments as city solicitor, Diaz cited his work in creating the John F. Street Honors Program, through which the city hired the largest number of law school graduates of any employer in Pennsylvania. Diaz said he was successful in representing the city on a variety of issues, including obtaining a reduction in auto insurance rates through a settlement with the Department of Insurance. In addition, Diaz created a mediation program that enabled the resolution of more than 100 cases in federal and state court, created a new health and behavioral unit to prepare for the needs of the Health Department, and reorganized the legal representation of the dependent children’s program in Family Court. The 1972 graduate of Temple Law School started his career as the executive director of the Spanish Merchants of Philadelphia. He sandwiched a White House fellowship in 1977, serving as a special assistant to Vice President Walter Mondale, between stints at two local law firms. Diaz was a Philadelphia common pleas judge from 1981 to 1993, spending the latter part of his tenure as administrative judge in the trial division. He was appointed by President Clinton in 1993 to serve as HUD’s general counsel before returning to Philadelphia in 1997 to become a partner in Blank Rome’s litigation department, making Diaz the only Hispanic partner in a large Philadelphia law firm at the time. Diaz has spent his life breaking barriers for the Hispanic community. He was the first person of Puerto Rican ancestry admitted to the Pennsylvania Bar. He was also the first Hispanic judge in Pennsylvania in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas and the youngest elected judge in the city. Diaz was replaced as city solicitor by Pedro Ramos, an executive at the University of Pennsylvania who once was president of the Philadelphia School Board and a partner at Ballard Spahr Andrews & Ingersoll.

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