Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Wanted: Experienced Leadership at City Legal

The shuffling of the deck chairs on the Titanic, er Ballard administration, brings a new interesting opening. Chris Cotterill, head of City Legal, has moved over to become Ballard's Chief of Staff. That of course leaves Cotterill's old position open.

Among Indianapolis attorneys, the most consistent criticism of the Ballard administration has been the poorly run City Legal which carries the official name Corporation Counsel. Cotterill, who had only been an attorney for five years when he was appointed, simply did not have the experience for the job. The head of the extremely important litigation division of City Legal, Jonathan Mayes, only had two years legal experience when he was appointed.

Those of us who have been attorneys for a long time (I've passed my 22nd anniversary as a lawyer) know there is absolutely no substitute for experience. While City Legal is staffed by many fine attorneys with potential, most are young and need experienced leadership to guide them through the legal thicket. When the leaders of City Legal are as inexperienced, or more so, than the rank and file City Legal attorneys, it creates a huge problem.

Of course, inexperienced leadership at City Legal is no accident. I understand that Joe Loftus, partner at Barnes & Thornburg who is also on the public payroll as counsel to the mayor and lobbyist, hired every attorney over at City Legal. Loftus is no dummy. He knows young, inexperienced attorneys are unlikely to stand up to him when he gives them a questionable directive. That fact was on full display during the budget discussions culminating in the elimination of Channel 16 Rick Maultra's job. Cotterill completely immersed himself in a conflict of interest situation that was driven by Loftus' desire to help out his long-time client, AT&T. That Cotterill was perhaps violating the very city ethics rules he was supposed to help enforce didn't deter him down from helping Loftus, who was calling the shots behind the scenes.

While the promotion of Cotterill is in itself a questionable move, it does open an opportunity for Mayor Ballard to appoint a more experienced head of City Legal, someone who will show some independence and leadership. Let's hope Mayor Ballard takes advantage of that opportunity.


varangianguard said...

So, is Cotterill's move to CoS, his "reward" for following instructions, then?

Even though Okeson couldn't make ends meet on 90K, isn't this more money for Cotterill?

And now that Okeson has picked up a coveted CIB "volunteer" spot, will he be able to cherry pick himself some "consulting" contracts to help out with the milk money jar at home?

Paul K. Ogden said...

Nah, it's probbly the same pay for Cotterill.

I think it's a shame Okeson can't pay his bills on 90K a year. My heart goes out to him for his financial plight.

Drewcifer said...
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