Law Department

Description of Services

The Corporation Counsel is responsible for prosecuting and defending all actions and proceedings brought by or against the City, its officers, departments, commissions, boards, or other agencies, including the Buffalo Board of Education and the Buffalo Sewer Authority.  

The Corporation Counsel is also charged with instituting and conducting all legal proceedings brought by the City in the exercise of its eminent domain powers and acting as a prosecutor for violations of ordinance and other laws not otherwise prosecuted within the city, including Housing Code violations and violations of the Agriculture and Markets Law.

It is further the duty of the Corporation Counsel to prepare or approve as to form all local laws and ordinances before they are enacted by the Common Council, and to prepare or approve as to form all proposals for public work or service, materials, supplies, and equipment.

The Corporation Counsel must also approve as to form or prepare all contracts, bonds, obligations, and legal instruments in which the City may be interested, as well as, all contracts or leases involving the City or its officers, agents, and employees.

The Corporation Counsel is also charged with participating in the negotiation and arbitration of all union matters involving City employees.
Additionally, the Corporation Counsel advises the Common Council, any committee thereof, and any department, commission, board, or agency of the City with respect to its powers and duties.

The Corporation Counsel must also negotiate, implement, and monitor franchise agreements for the use of public rights of way and discharge such other duties as properly pertain to the Law Department and the City of Buffalo.

Department Objectives

  • The Law Department provides the highest quality legal services to the Mayor, the Common Council, and all departments and agencies of the City of Buffalo.
  • The Law Department strives to vigorously and diligently represent the City of Buffalo in all legal actions and proceedings while also upholding the highest ethical standards.
  • The Law Department seeks to excel in the practice of all areas of municipal law and to not only apply current law to municipal matters, but to promulgate changes in law that correct inequities and ensure just results.
  • Through the Office of New Americans, our legal experts also strive to help members of our growing immigrant populations and refugees access City services, resources and other opportunities to settle into their new lives in Buffalo.