Jan Goldsmith: City Attorney’s office — A long way from where we were four years ago
Excerpts from City Attorney’s Second Inaugural Speech…
San Diego has had a history of sometimes cutting corners on the law – so our office has worked very hard to get things right – we give legal opinions based on the law that aren’t necessarily what people want to hear. Our lawyers are encouraged to raise red flags and stop something that’s happening when they see that a legal issue needs to be addressed. We particularly appreciate the fact that the City Council has respected the importance of us doing that, the importance of their legal work, of allowing us to do our job without blow back – thank you very much.
I want to say a few words about our law firm – our law firm has come a long way from where we were four years ago. We are run like a private law firm, so I like to call it a law firm. But we are larger than any private law firm in San Diego. We have the most diverse law practice in the nation – criminal prosecutors, civil litigators, advisors to the Mayor, Council, departments, committees, and commissions. Practicing in such diverse fields as worker’s compensation, labor, securities, and more – and we are a bargain.
Fifteen full-time deputy city attorneys cost us $1.7 million dollars. The same number of outside lawyers would cost us between $8 million and $15 million dollars. We are a bargain! $1.7 million cost for fifteen deputy city attorneys versus $8 to $15 million if we were to hire outside counsel – we are a bargain but we are also very good at what we do.
We are proud of our achievements – the way we run our office, the quality of our legal work, and our specific achievements. For example, the retiree health compromise came to be only after our office won one of the most significant lawsuits in the City’s history. Lawsuit wins alone, during the last four years, will save the City well over a billion dollars. The $27 million settlement we’ve been reading about lately didn’t just fall into our treasury. It took years of hard work and complex litigation over the wildfires and months of negotiations and our lawyers did a fantastic job. Whether it was complicated labor deals, convention center expansions, library, or returning to the bond markets, our lawyers were there right in the middle of all the negotiating, the structuring and performing legal work at a level this office had never before reached.
When I say we, or our office, I am not talking like a politician. It’s not me, I mean we and our office – our lawyers, our paralegals, our
investigators, our legal secretaries, and our staff. And they all participated in a six percent reduction – they participated in the cuts that
our employees have had to endure. And in the midst of that, they pulled themselves up as professionals and rebuilt a law firm, the largest in our city, larger than any of these private law firms and did superb legal work. I don’t mean me – I mean the men and women in my law firm. We are a team. With a new Mayor, a new vision and the new challenges we face, we are ready to reach the next level.
Thank you so much for allowing me to serve.