Thank you for sharing!

Your article was successfully shared with the contacts you provided.
During the transition period between Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter’s election last November and his inauguration in January, Carlton Johnson, a partner at Archer & Greiner and a 21-year veteran of Philadelphia’s Law Department, often woke at 4:30 a.m. brimming with policy ideas. “It was like having an adrenaline rush with ideas and enthusiasm,” Johnson said about his time volunteering last year on the Nutter transition teams focusing on police, prison, Law Department and personnel issues. He added later, “And for people who know me I’m not a morning person.” Naomi Mendelsohn, an associate who joined Hangley Aronchick Segal & Pudlin last October, happily admits that she “begged” to be included among a group of Hangley Aronchick associates volunteering to help on a transition team that firm shareholder Joseph Dworetzky was leading to examine the city’s Law Department. Interviews with close to 20 attorneys involved with the Nutter transition revealed they each individually volunteered dozens, even hundreds, of hours to aid the transition teams’ preparation of public policy reports for the incoming Nutter administration. Much of the transition teams’ findings remain confidential as the Nutter administration develops its polices. But what is far from confidential is the belief that lawyers who volunteered their time have done so for the future of Philadelphia under Nutter’s leadership. “The mayor’s issued a call to service that I think a lot of folks, especially the attorneys involved in the effort, took really, very seriously,” said Richard Negrin, an in-house counsel who volunteered with the police transition team at Nutter’s request. “I think the concept of a citizen lawyer is alive and well in Philadelphia.” Sarah Ricks, a clinical associate professor of law at Rutgers School of Law – Camden who served as an appellate and legislative attorney in Philadelphia’s Law Department from 1995 to 2001, was one of the attorneys on the Law Department task force . She thinks her work on that transition team will be put to good use by Nutter’s appointees, including Shelley Smith as city solicitor. “I’m very excited and optimistic about this new era in the city of Philadelphia,” Ricks said. “I’m very impressed by the strong and smart leadership Mayor Nutter is bringing to the city and to his appointments.” “Michael Nutter has captured a tremendous amount of excitement generally,” Dworetzky said. “For the legal community, that’s particularly true.” Many of the lawyers interviewed said lay people uninvolved in public policy probably would be surprised at how in-depth and far-reaching the transition process is. The thoroughness of the process even surprised some of the attorneys involved. Johnson, who served as chief deputy city solicitor of the city’s civil rights unit before joining Archer & Greiner to lead its civil rights and government relations practices, said he shouldn’t have been surprised at how much thought and care Nutter gave the transition. But Johnson was surprised in a pleasant way at the mayor’s “virtually flawless” game plan. “In my 21 years in government, I’ve never seen anything executed as well as Michael’s game plan,” Johnson said. Stephen Pollock, of counsel with the business department at Montgomery McCracken Walker & Rhoads, joined the Department of Licenses and Inspections transition team at the request of key Nutter player Wendell Pritchett, with whom Pollock had served on the Pennsylvania State Planning Board. Pollock joked that he hopes that his task force’s report is read and not just used to level off a City Hall table. But on the serious side, his team followed Nutter’s directive to explore how to make L&I more responsive to its modern responsibilities of ensuring that the city’s codes are followed, including possibly restructuring the department. Pollock was impressed about the broad spectrum of points of view represented in the L&I team. “I think it shows the breadth of his [Nutter's] connection to the city of Philadelphia . . . [and the] collaborative, consultative kind of approach he likes to take,” Pollock said. Richard W. Hayden, a partner at Saul Ewing and a former member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, served as counsel to the Nutter transition teams. He said, tongue-in-cheek, that he racked up enough pro bono time during the Nutter transition to carry him through the next five years. Hayden, who was a Nutter constituent during Nutter’s City Council years and was involved early on in the campaign, said by the time the general election results were in the transition team had an “overcapacity” of people wanting to help. “Lawyers maybe more than most professions have an interest in how government works,” Hayden said. Nutter’s selection of experienced leaders for his appointments meant that the reports prepared by the transition teams won’t just be stuck in City Hall drawers to be ignored, Hayden said. Instead, the reports will be used as blueprints for Nutter’s new leaders, he said. The task forces were divided into subgroups that interviewed current city employees working in those public policy areas, past employees and outsiders involved in those areas. Pritchett � Nutter’s director of policy, research and planning and most recently a professor at the University of Pennsylvania Law School � said he, his staff and a couple of other Nutter officials have combed through the transition reports and used the findings to decide which tasks must be addressed immediately and which ones can be addressed later. Pritchett estimated at least 200 people were involved in more than 20 transition teams. “Everybody was excited to do it. I’ve been very impressed by the work product,” he said. Dworetzky, a former Philadelphia city solicitor under then-Mayor Edward G. Rendell, divided his time between answering specific legal questions the Nutter team had about the city’s structure and the City Charter and leading its 22-member Law Department task force. The Law Department group talked with more than 60 people for its transition report, including staff currently working in the City Solicitor’s Office, judges before whom the Law Department attorneys appear and the Law Department’s city entity clients, Dworetzky said. Outsiders would be “flabbergasted how much work needs to get done in a short period of time,” particularly in evaluating the structure of a department that handles a wide portfolio of legal matters varying from social service contracting, the city airport and Philadelphia Gas Works, he said. “I think there was a lot of excitement at the opportunity to take a look at what was going on and make some concrete suggestions about things that were working and things that needed to be improved,” said Jane Dalton, a partner at Duane Morris, who also served on the task force reviewing the city’s Law Department. Michael Davidson, counsel in Wolf Block Schorr & Solis-Cohen’s real estate group, served on the Nutter housing transition team with about 10 people, including academics, community group representatives and private development people. Davidson said he thinks the public might be surprised at how uneventful the transition process is and how unpolluted it was from deal making. “Since I moved to the city of Philadelphia in the early ’90s, there’s been a dramatic growth in Center City especially, even in the neighborhoods there’s been a lot of development and investment,” said Davidson, who was part of a subgroup focused on the city’s Office of Housing and Community Development. “There’s a real sense over the next four and eight years this administration can really build on that and do great things.” Job Itzkowitz, a fourth-year associate at Ballard Spahr Andrews & Ingersoll, was involved with the six-member emergency services transition team that also included Adrian King, a Ballard Spahr partner who as a Rendell deputy chief of staff oversaw Pennsylvania’s public safety functions. “There wasn’t any sort of filter on what we could discover and what we couldn’t discover. The subject matter was so important, there was a real honesty and forthrightness about doing the best for the city,” Itzkowitz said. Charles “Chip” Becker, who runs Kline & Specter’s appellate practice and worked along with Ricks in examining the Law Department’s appeals and legislative unit, said his Republican party affiliation did not make a difference for a group mostly composed of Democrats. He got involved at the request of Dworetzky. “I was very heartened by the integrity and depth of the process,” Becker said of the transition. For the police transition team, the goal was to put together a plan that could be executed by newly minted Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey, Negrin said. Ramsey has already indicated that the report was helpful, he said. Negrin said his experience with the Nutter transition differed from his past experience helping with Rendell’s gubernatorial transition because of the level of energy in the Nutter process to grab the opportunity for new leadership on the city’s critical public safety issues. Several of the people involved in the Nutter administration were veterans of Rendell transitions to mayor or to governor, including Dalton, Dworetzky, Hayden, Negrin and Pollock. Stephen A. Madva, chairman of Montgomery McCracken, said the prison policy subcommittee he led highlighted in its report that city inmates and the prison system that houses them are an area of ignored city responsibility. The city’s prison system was built for 5,500 inmates but there are now 9,700 inmates within it, he said. “Not only are these disadvantaged people, but the cause of most of their issues is emotional unbalance or drug or alcohol dependence,” Madva said. One key recommendation made by the prison sub-task force was for regular meetings to be instituted for all the entities connected to the city’s prison system. Such a policy would help to provide better efficiencies in the city’s prison system, including avoiding delays in the release of inmates and the better coordination of drug rehabilitation, Madva said. Madva hopes that his work devoted to co-chairing Nutter’s crime policy team before the general election and chairing Nutter’s prison reform subcommittee during the transition period will increase “the morale of the prisons, both of the inmates and even of the corrections officers.”

This content has been archived. It is available through our partners, LexisNexis® and Bloomberg Law.

To view this content, please continue to their sites.

Not a Lexis Advance® Subscriber?
Subscribe Now

Not a Bloomberg Law Subscriber?
Subscribe Now

Why am I seeing this?

LexisNexis® and Bloomberg Law are third party online distributors of the broad collection of current and archived versions of ALM's legal news publications. LexisNexis® and Bloomberg Law customers are able to access and use ALM's content, including content from the National Law Journal, The American Lawyer, Legaltech News, The New York Law Journal, and Corporate Counsel, as well as other sources of legal information.

For questions call 1-877-256-2472 or contact us at [email protected]

Reprints & Licensing
Mentioned in a Law.com story?

License our industry-leading legal content to extend your thought leadership and build your brand.


ALM Legal Publication Newsletters

Sign Up Today and Never Miss Another Story.

As part of your digital membership, you can sign up for an unlimited number of a wide range of complimentary newsletters. Visit your My Account page to make your selections. Get the timely legal news and critical analysis you cannot afford to miss. Tailored just for you. In your inbox. Every day.

Copyright © 2021 ALM Media Properties, LLC. All Rights Reserved.