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Former Oakland City Attorney Jayne Williams will be Meyers, Nave, Riback, Silver & Wilson’s new managing partner, the firm announced Monday. Williams will take the reins at the 65-lawyer firm Jan. 1. Founding Managing Partner Steven Meyers, who has held the post for 18 years, will still play an active role. He will lead the redevelopment practice group and sit on the firm’s executive committee. “I appreciate that they have the confidence in me to lead the firm,” said Williams, 56. Managing the firm’s growth is at the top of her agenda. Attorneys’ “practice areas are getting more complicated and diverse,” said Williams, noting that the firm has recently started an airport practice. “I see my role as helping . . . to provide resources and leadership to make people shine.” Meyers, Nave was founded in 1986 with three attorneys in San Leandro. Now one of the go-to firms for public sector work, it serves as a contract city attorney for 28 cities. The firm has branch offices in San Francisco, Oakland, Santa Rosa and Sacramento. In 2002 the firm moved its headquarters from San Leandro to high-rise office space in Oakland City Center. Williams’ rise at Meyers, Nave is an unexpected twist in her career. Williams was the city attorney in Oakland for 13 years �� the first African-American woman to hold that post in California. However, in 2000, Oakland voters approved Measure X, which gave the mayor more power and made the city attorney an elected post. In Oakland’s first city attorney election, former councilman John Russo, backed by Oakland Mayor Jerry Brown, defeated Williams. After the election, Williams became of counsel at Meyers, Nave. “I expected to win,” Williams said with a laugh. “It’s not the way I would have thought it would have gone.” But, she later added, “Those experiences [as city attorney] have enhanced my professional growth in a positive way.” At Meyers, Nave, Williams has gradually taken on more responsibilities. In 2003, the firm rolled out Public Management Advisors, a consulting group that counsels government legal departments. Williams is a key figure in that effort, in addition to being interim city attorney for Stockton and Merced. Williams says that she will have her hands full helping grow key offices, like Sacramento. That office, which opened in 2003, now provides city attorney services to seven local cities. Meyers, a longtime friend of Williams who wooed her to the firm, said that Williams brings plenty of experience to the task. He noted that she advised Oakland during tough times, including litigation that sprang from the Loma Prieta earthquake and Oakland hills fire. “It speaks volumes about her skills and people management abilities,” he said.

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