The Law Department's Support Division provides support services for the Department's legal and administrative staff. They provide centralized production support for Law Department employees, including but not limited to investigations, legal processing, case docketing, electronic editing and filing, courier services, composition, scanning and duplication of hundreds of documents daily, and servicing and filing of legal papers. They operate our newly launched case management system and are moving our practice into a substantially paperless environment.
The Affirmative Litigation Division represents the City as plaintiff. The Division litigates a wide range of issues in federal and state courts. We conduct hearings before administrative agencies and advise City agencies on a wide range of topics. Subject areas include commercial disputes; nuisance and restitution claims; and challenges to state and federal government decisions affecting funding for public benefit programs and education.
Board of Education
The School District operates hundreds of real property locations and works with thousands of students on a daily basis. Our office handles the substantial majority of claims against the School District for torts and litigation. We work cooperatively with their diverse staff to address legal needs. Corporation Counsel assists with Special Education administrative proceedings and related court litigation. Labor matters including arbitration and subsequent litigation are part of our daily responsibility. Our office assists the School District with dangerous student proceedings in Supreme Court.
The Division provides legal advice and crafts the legislative changes necessary to shape and implement policy initiatives. The Division is responsible for drafting state and local legislation proposed by the Common Council, the Mayor, City agencies and for assisting in the drafting of administrative rules. On a daily basis, Division attorneys field questions from City Hall and City agencies on issues of overriding importance to the City as well as those regarding day-to-day administration.
The Economic Development Division acts as the City's business and transactional counsel for a wide range of challenging and complex projects that are intended to enhance the City's economic base either by generating direct revenue for the City treasury or by strengthening the City's tax base and general economic health. Division attorneys work on all aspects of the transaction, helping to structure the deal from its inception, negotiating and drafting the documentation, following through to closing and administering the agreements after closing. The Division's work is diverse and can run the gamut from the sale of an individual parcel of City-owned land to the comprehensive redefinition of the Buffalo Water Front. The Division works closely with the Office of Economic Development Inspections and Licenses, the Buffalo Urban Renewal Agency and many other City agencies.
Litigation & Torts
The City of Buffalo has built and maintains a vast network of roads, bridges, parks, public buildings, and other public facilities. The City and its agencies provide essential urban services, such as police protection, firefighting and sanitation operations. The Division represents the City and all its Departments including the Buffalo Common Council. It handles an enormous caseload through vigorous investigation, zealous defense before State and Federal courts, and, when appropriate, settlement.
In Buffalo Housing Court, we prosecute, as the People, all relevant cases with code violation matters charged including all appeals of Housing Court decisions brought in County Court. This Division conducts trials for cases in which guilty pleas cannot be obtained, responds to written motions, demands to produce, and other requests. Recognizing the need to resolve some cases without aggressive prosecution, we engage in negotiations in an attempt to obtain problem solving outcomes. Our office cooperates with the New York State Attorney General’s office in monitoring property owners of interest and have developed effective methods with the Mayor’s Anti-Flipping task Force to prevent questionable real property transactions
In-Rem handles all legal aspects and challenges of the In-Rem foreclosure proceedings against delinquent tax, user fee, sewer and water charge liens. This Division prepares the specification for the title reports, solicits bid proposals, screens prospective vendors to ensure that they do not owe any outstanding debts to the City and its various agencies. This office prepares the contracts and coordinates the processing of thousands of title search reports with the MIS/Data Department to ensure that proper legal notices are given to all parties including the IRS, the U.S., New York State governments and their various agencies. After the auction sale, we coordinate and review the six(6) legal notices published in the City records and the Buffalo Law Journal respectively. In order to effectuate accurate title transfer, we review the agreement of Sale and then oversee preparation and recordation of all the deeds for the properties stuck-down to City and the deeds sold to the successful bidders/purchasers. Keeping our public service philosophy in mind, we have worked with hundreds of distressed property owners to make arrangements to keep them in their homes and avoid foreclosure sale.
Labor & Employment Law
The Labor and Employment Division within the City of Buffalo Law Department serves as legal counsel to all departments within the City in relation to any issue involving labor and/or employment issues. This includes, but is not limited to circumstances involving grievances, discipline, benefits, discrimination claims, harassment claims, lawsuits and Court proceedings as well as Civil Service matters. Additionally, the Labor and Employment Division is responsible for shaping and implementing employment policies and practices, interpreting and applying collective bargaining agreements and negotiating collective bargaining contracts in conjunction with the applicable Department personnel. This includes coordinating labor relations matters in cooperation with the Department of Human Resources.
The City of Buffalo Police Department provides vital services to all of our citizens. In the course of that employment, issues arise related to claims from our citizenry. Corporation Counsel represents the city of Buffalo Police Department in state, federal and administrative claims. We provide legal guidance and advice to the Department’s Professional Standards Division concerning personnel charges and investigation. Our office provides assistance to all Department Heads, including the Commissioner of Police, on a wide range of legal issues affecting the operations of the Buffalo Police Department.
On or before the 1st day of December of each year, the City prepares the annual assessment roll that contains a tentative value for all of the parcels in the City of Buffalo. This date is the City’s taxable status date. A Tentative Assessment Roll is published containing the values set on the taxable status date. Property owners who believe that they have been aggrieved by the assessed value of their property, may file a complaint with the Board of Assessment Review (BAR). All complaints must be filed within 30 days of the date that the tentative assessment roll is published, unless extended by the Commissioner of Tax and Assessment. Corporation Counsel provides counsel to the Department of Assessment & Taxation and represents the City of Buffalo in civil proceedings brought against the City pursuant to Article 7 of the New York State Real Property Tax Law.
Our transactional attorneys are regularly engaged in work with City Hall departments such as Public Works, Economic Development, Community Services & Recreational Programming, Office of Strategic Planning and Real Estate, Purchasing and others. They also interface and work with relevant outside individuals, parties and entities. Our legal team performs daily reviews on City related public works transactional documents and or general City procurement. We advise as to the legal form of all grant or programmatic funding facilitation contracts, bonds and insurance certificates. Our office assists in contract drafting and reviews. Real property transactions in general, easements, access agreement requests and lease agreements are processed by our attorneys.