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21st Annual Municipal Law Institute

Speaker(s): Alice R. Baker, Andrew J. Saindon, Antonia Pereira, Carl Schifferle, Eric Eichenholtz, James E. Johnson, June A. Witterschein, Karen M. Griffin, Loren L. AliKhan, Martha J. Mullen, Steven Stein Cushman, Victor O. Olds
Recorded on: Jul. 26, 2021
PLI Program #: 306084

Alice Baker joined the New York City Law Department as Senior Counsel in the Environmental Division in March of 2020, where she works on a range of environmental and municipal issues including land use, Superfund remediation, climate change, and environmental review. Her practice involves advising city agencies, negotiating settlements, defending the City in environmental litigation, and representing the City as a plaintiff in challenges related to climate change and affirmative coalition litigation.

Prior to joining the NYC Law Department, Alice was a Senior Attorney at PennFuture, a Pennsylvania-based environmental nonprofit.  Alice also worked at Super Law Group, LLC, a private environmental law firm in New York City, where she focused on Clean Water Act and stormwater enforcement issues, and served as the Director of the New York City Environmental Law Leadership Institute (NYCELLI), a nonprofit designed to inform, equip, and inspire new environmental attorneys.

Alice received her J.D. and Master’s of Environmental Law and Policy from Vermont Law School and B.A from Bard College.

Andy is a Senior Assistant Attorney General for the District of Columbia and has been a trial attorney for the District of Columbia since 1998. He has successfully defended the city in civil litigation in hundreds of lawsuits—including class actions—in local and federal courts. Andy defended the city in five suits challenging the District’s legalization of same-sex marriage and in eight (so far) post-Heller suits challenging the District’s regulation of firearms. He has spoken around the country on the Second Amendment and the regulation of firearms and served as a Visiting Scholar at Monash University Faculty of Law in Melbourne, Australia, on that topic. He is a 1996 graduate of the University of Maryland School of Law.

Antonia is a senior counsel in the Environmental Law Division of the New York City Law Department, where she practices environmental and municipal law, working on a range of issues relating to New York City land use, parks, Superfund remediation, and environmental review.  Her work includes advising city agencies on environmental and land use compliance matters, negotiating settlements related to environmental disputes, defending the City in environmental litigation, and representing the City in multi-state affirmative litigation.

She previously worked as an agency attorney at the New York City Department of Environmental Protection where she primarily focused on the Clean Water Act and stormwater related issues.

After graduating from law school, she clerked for the Honorable Delissa A. Ridgway at the United States Court of International trade.

Antonia received her J.D. from Brooklyn Law School and her bachelor’s degree from Boston University.

Carl is a Deputy Solicitor General for the District of Columbia and has served as a trial and appellate attorney for the Office of the Attorney General for the District of Columbia since 1999.  He briefed the Supreme Court case of Wesby v. District of Columbia, overturning a judgment on Section 1983 false arrest claims against the District of Columbia and two of its police officers, by successfully arguing on the issues of probable cause and qualified immunity.  He has argued about 30 cases before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit and several dozen other cases before the D.C. Court of Appeals.  In both his appellate and trial litigation, he has defended the District of Columbia and its employees on a wide variety of constitutional claims, including First Amendment free speech, Fourth Amendment search and seizure, and Fifth Amendment due process.  He is a 1998 graduate of the University of Michigan Law School.

James E. Johnson is Chief Operating Officer for Trinity Church Wall Street. Prior to joining Trinity, Jim served as the 79th Corporation Counsel of the City of New York. As the chief lawyer for the City, Jim led the New York City Law Department, overseeing approximately 1,000 attorneys and 890 support professionals, to provide the highest quality legal representation to the City.

Prior to leading the Law Department, Jim served dual roles as special counsel to New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy for the Atlantic City transition and as a senior fellow at the Brennan Center. In Atlantic City, Jim led a team that brought together public officials, the private sector and the community to build a foundation for sustained social and economic progress and a shared prosperity. At the Brennan Center, Jim focused on issues of criminal justice reform with a nonpartisan group of national law enforcement leaders who have been working to reduce crime and incarceration. Earlier, Jim had served as chair of the Brennan Center for seven years. Jim also served as Chair of the New Jersey Advisory Committee on Police Standards. The committee worked across party lines and with civil rights and law enforcement groups alike on important issues of criminal justice reform.

Jim also held senior positions in federal government during the Clinton Administration. He held several roles in the U.S. Department of the Treasury, including Under Secretary of the Treasury for Enforcement. As Under Secretary he oversaw the operations of the ATF, the Secret Service, the Customs Service and other enforcement and regulatory bureaus with more than 29,000 employees. He was one of the Clinton Administration's leading voices on firearms, money laundering and narcotics policy. Prior to that, he served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York. Jim also worked for a time in private practice as a partner at Debevoise & Plimpton LLP.

June Witterschein is the Law Department's Director of Professional and Organizational Development, where she creates and implements the Continuing Legal Education curriculum for the Department’s 900+ attorneys.  June and her staff are responsible for programming for the professional development of the Department’s employees, and they oversee the agency's diversity training programs, and the Department's Coaching Collaborative. June began her legal career in the Law Department in the Appeals Division, and then served as Deputy Chief of the Legal Counsel Division. In 1990, June left the Department and later served as a law clerk to the then Presiding Judge Sylvia Pressler of the New Jersey Appellate Division.  June taught for nine years at Seton Hall University School of Law, before returning to the Law Department in 2003.

June is admitted to practice in the Courts of the State of New York, the US Courts for the Southern and Eastern Districts of New York, and the United States Supreme Court. She currently serves on the Mediation Panel of the Southern District of New York.  June is also a member of the New York City Bar Association’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee.

Loren L. AliKhan is the Solicitor General for the District of Columbia.  In this capacity, she oversees the District’s appeals in the D.C. Court of Appeals, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, and the U.S. Supreme Court.  Before joining the D.C. Office of the Attorney General, Loren was an attorney in the Supreme Court and Appellate practice group at O’Melveny & Myers LLP.  Loren has also served as a Bristow Fellow in the Office of the Solicitor General at the U.S. Department of Justice; a Temple Bar Scholar in London, England; and a law clerk to the Honorable Louis H. Pollak on the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania and the Honorable Thomas L. Ambro on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.  She graduated magna cum laude from Georgetown University Law Center and summa cum laude from Bard College at Simon’s Rock.

Loren has worked with O’Melveny’s Supreme Court and Appellate Practice Clinic at Harvard Law School and the legal writing program at Yale Law School.  She sits on the Board of Overseers of Bard College at Simon’s Rock.

Steve is the Executive Assistant Corporation Counsel for Commercial Law at the New York City Law Department.  He has served on the Law Departments’ Executive team since 2015.  He joined the Law Department as an Assistant Corporation Counsel in the Affirmative Litigation Division in 1988, transferred to the Department of Environmental Protection as an Assistant Counsel, and then back to the Law Department in the Environmental Law Division as an Assistant Chief supervising watershed matters.  Steve became Deputy Chief of Contracts and Real Estate in 1998 but also served as General Counsel to the 1999 New York City Charter Revision Commission and subsequently as General Counsel to New York City Human Resources Administration (HRA).   Returning to the Law Department in 2001, he served as Chief of Contracts and Real Estate from 2004 until 2015 when he began his current position.

Victor O. Olds is the Chief Procurement Officer and Director of the Mayor’s Office of Contract Services (MOCS). Victor advises the various Administration officials on procurement and policy oversight for $20+ billion in annual spend. Prior to serving as Chief Procurement Officer and Director, Victor served as General Counsel of MOCS. Victor has been instrumental in preparing the City for long-awaited procurement modernization. He helped design the new Procurement and Sourcing Solutions Portal (PASSPort), which will serve as an end-to-end technology platform used by agency procurement staff, oversight personnel and vendors. Victor is also integrally involved in the City’s Minority and Women-Owned Business Enterprises (M/WBE) Program, developing policy initiatives and advising on compliance matters. Victor also drafted and supported the implementation of new Procurement Policy Board rules that have advanced the City’s interest in providing fair and inclusive contracting opportunities for New York City’s vendor community. Victor was the recipient of the Dorothy Marie Miner Award for Outstanding Service as Counsel to an Agency by the New York City Law Department in 2019.   

Prior to serving as MOCS General Counsel, Victor served as Deputy General Counsel and Executive Director of the Division of Economic Opportunity and Advancement within MOCS. In that role, Victor worked to advance the expansion of the City’s M/WBE Program by advising on policy considerations that have yielded a significant increase in contract awards to diverse City vendors.

Victor joined MOCS after practicing in the New York City office of an international law firm where he focused on civil litigation. He was awarded his Bachelor of Science degree from Cornell University, where he graduated cum laude, and law degree from Fordham University, where he received the Archibald R. Murray award for public service. 

Eric Eichenholtz is currently the Chief of the Labor and Employment Law Division of the New York City Law Department. In this capacity, he oversees a Division of more than 50 attorneys and 15 support staff whose function it is to represent the City of New York and its agencies in a wide variety of litigation related to the City’s role as a municipal employer. Prior to becoming Division Chief, Eric has handled a wide variety of cases, including the representation of the former New York City Council Speaker in a highly publicized lawsuit that alleging improper termination of a City Council aide, a series of cases challenging the New York City Department of Education’s Teaching Fellows program (a program designed to attract teachers to schools), and several discrimination lawsuits against high ranking City officials. Eric has also served as the Co-Chairperson of the Law Department’s Electronic Evidence Committee since 2007. In addition to presenting at PLI, Eric has also presented CLE lectures on Professionalism, Brief Writing, Discovery and Electronic Discovery for the New York City Law Department. Eric has been a guest lecturer at Adelphi University, making presentations on legal research to graduate students taking classes on education and the law. Eric is a member of the New York State Bar Association, and volunteers as a judge for American Bar Association’s National Appellate Competition as well as various college moot court competitions. He also serves as a volunteer small claims arbitrator for the New York County Civil Court.

Karen Griffin is Chief Ethics Officer in the New York City Law Department, Office of the Corporation Counsel, where she has worked since 1995. She is responsible for counseling and training City attorneys in a wide array of legal ethics and professional responsibility matters. Karen is also the Chair of the Law Department’s Committee on Professional Responsibility and Ethics and served on the New York City Bar Association’s Committee on Professional Ethics from 2012-2016. Prior to her current role, Karen was a member of the Law Department’s Appeals Division and its Tax & Bankruptcy Litigation Division. In 1998, she was a recipient of the New York City Bar Association’s Municipal Affairs Award for outstanding achievement as an Assistant Corporation Counsel.

Martha J. Mullen is a Senior Assistant Attorney General in the Civil Litigation Division for the District of Columbia’s Office of the Attorney General.  She has been with the office for twenty-three years during which time she has litigated major class actions, Section 1983, Title VII, ADA, FLSA, and WPA claims as well as wrongful death, survival actions, and medical malpractice cases. This is her 18th year co-chairing the Municipal Law Institute.