New York City Law Department

Law Department
Department overview
Jurisdiction New York City
Department executive
Key document

The New York City Law Department is the department of the government of New York City[1] responsible for most of the city's legal affairs. The Department is headed by the Corporation Counsel.

The Law Department represents the mayor and city officials in all civil litigation, in juvenile delinquency proceedings in Family Court, and in prosecutions in the New York City Criminal Court under the New York City Administrative Code. Among the Department's other duties are drafting contracts, leases, municipal bond issues, and other legal documents for the city; reviewing local and state legislation, and providing legal advice to city officials on a wide variety of issues.

The New York City Charter, the New York City Administrative Code, and the Rules of the City of New York are published online by New York Legal Publishing Corporation under contract with the Law Department.[2] The department's regulations are compiled in title 46 of the Rules.


The origins of the Law Department lie in the English office of the Recorder. After the City fell under British control following the Third Anglo-Dutch War, New York's Royal Governor created the Office of Recorder of New York City in 1683 to serve as legal and political counsel to the City Government.

After the American Revolution, New York City continued to grow, and during the 19th century, the City Council began hiring private attorneys to do the internal legal work of the City. When this arrangement proved unsatisfactory, the City Charter was amended in 1849 to create the Office of the Corporation Counsel (so named because New York City is a municipal corporation).

Among the better-known cases that the Department has litigated before the U.S. Supreme Court are Goldberg v. Kelly, Penn Central Transportation Co. v. New York City, Ward v. Rock Against Racism, Massachusetts v. Environmental Protection Agency, and Permanent Mission of India v. City of New York. The Department also prepares amicus curiae briefs in many major court cases.

Organizational structure

The Law Department has 17 legal divisions and 3 support divisions. As of 2008, the Department employs 690 lawyers and 850 support professionals in ten offices located in all five boroughs, and an auxiliary office in Kingston, New York.

The legal divisions are:

The support divisions are:

See also


  1. New York City Charter § 391; "There shall be a law department the head of which shall be the corporation counsel."
  2. "About the Law Department". New York City Law Department. Retrieved 16 June 2013. The most important laws of the City of New York are now available on the web. The Law Department contracted with New York Legal Publishing Corp. for a site where you can browse and search the New York City Charter, the New York City Administrative Code, and the Rules of the City of New York.

Further reading

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