At its luncheon on Friday, August 5, during the ABA Annual Meeting in San Francisco, the Section’s Jefferson Fordham Society presented its annual Jefferson Fordham Awards honoring professional excellence in the practice of state and local government law. Victor Marquez, Past President of the Hispanic National Bar Association, a Commissioner to the ABA Sexual Orientation & Gender Identity Commission, and principal of the Marquez Law Group, San Francisco, was the featured speaker at the event. The following state and local government law practitioners were recognized for their contributions to the profession.
Donald J. Curtin Lifetime Achievement Award Recipient Ross Sandler Professor of Law Director, Center for New York City Law New York Law School New York, New York
Leaving Jones Day Reavis & Pogue, where he was a partner, in 1994, Ross Sandler became the founding director of New York Law School’s Center for New York City Law, an opportunity for him to bring together all of his experience—as a legal practitioner, a New York City official, and an academic—in an exciting new enterprise. Now in its 22nd year, the Center has brought together the most powerful and influential policymakers in the city and state. The mission of the Center is to provide information about, and analysis of, the laws and legal processes that govern New York City, while seeking to make the city’s government and decisions more fair, comprehensible, and transparent.
Professor Sandler attended Dartmouth on a scholarship and New York University School of Law on a Root Tilden Fellowship. He came to NYLS after a long and distinguished career in public service. During the early 1970s he was on the cutting edge of environmental law while working in the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Manhattan as chief of the Environmental Enforcement Unit. His office’s successful prosecution of Hudson River polluters led to the passage of the 1972 Clean Water Act. Later, in the mid-1970s, as senior staff attorney at the Natural Resources Defense Council, he and his NYLS colleague David Schoenbrod headed the Urban Environmental Unit, winning a pivotal Clean Air Act case.
In 1981. Mayor Edward I. Koch appointed Professor Sandler to the newly created position of special advisor to the mayor where his environmental law experience helped revitalize the city’s mass transit system. In 1986 he was appointed Commissioner of the City Department of Transportation and proceeded to reorganize the 8,000-person department with a program of maintenance and repair still in place today.
His decades of experience as a participant and observer of urban affairs made him a familiar figure in New York City government circles, and made it easier for him to carry out his vision for the Center. The academic and public mission of the Center is to provide information about, and analysis of, the laws and legal processes that govern New York City. The Center seeks to make the city’s government and decisions more fair, comprehensible, and open to the public. “The Center’s goal is transparency and information,” as Professor Sandler described it. The Center pursues its mission by scholarly research and writing, by widely disseminating information about New York City in accessible and easily understood formats, and providing a neutral forum to critique and develop policies.
Professor Sandler believes that the Center’s work will remain timely and influential. New York City and New York State are in constant transformation, with powerful government agencies, and new laws and policies being constantly generated. As a major civic resource the work of the Center will continue to hold an important place in NYLS and the City’s policymaking community.
Professor Sandler has over the years served as an appointed member of the New York Procurement Policy Board, a member of the Taxi & Limousine Commission, and a Mayoral appointee to the Board of the American Museum of Natural History. He is the author of numerous publications on environmental law, transportation, and government issues. In 2003, Yale University Press released his book, Democracy by Decree: What Happens When Courts Run Government, written with Professor David Schoenbrod. His book, Jumpstart: Torts: Reading and Understanding Tort Cases, was published by Wolters Kluwer in 2012.
Advocacy Award Recipient Mike Jenkins Jenkins and Hogin Manhattan Beach, California
In a career that spans nearly 40 years, Michael Jenkins has dedicated his professional life to local government law, representing numerous cities in Southern California, teaching local government law, and training public officials. In addition to land use regulation, he has been responsible for drafting such landmark municipal legislation as the first domestic partnership registration ordinance, the first municipal ordinance banning discrimination on the basis of HIV and AIDS, the first municipal ordinance prohibiting investment in South Africa, and one of the first ordinances regulating drones.
Currently, he serves as city attorney for the cities of Hermosa Beach, Rolling Hills, and West Hollywood and as general counsel to the South Bay Cities Council of Governments, the Los Angeles County Vector Control District, and the San Gabriel Valley Mosquito and Vector Control District. He has previously served as city attorney for the cities of Avalon, Hidden Hills, La Habra Heights, Solvang, and Westlake Village.
Mr. Jenkins has served as President of the City Attorneys’ Department of the League of California Cities, where he co-authored the League’s Municipal Law Handbook and chaired its committee on California open meeting laws, and has served as President of the City Attorneys Association of Los Angeles County.
Prior to establishing the firm of Jenkins and Hogin, Mr. Jenkins was a senior shareholder at Richards, Watson & Gershon, where he specialized in municipal law from the time he joined the firm in 1978. During his time at the firm, Mr. Jenkins served for many years on its Management Committee and as Chair of its Public Law Department.
Mr. Jenkins has taught local government law for more than 16 years at the University of Southern California Law School. He is a frequent lecturer on municipal law subjects and has authored numerous published articles in the field of local government law. He also regularly trains local elected and appointed officials about compliance with various rules and regulations.
Up & Comer Award Christopher L. Brown Deputy Law Director City of Mansfield, Ohio
Christopher L. Brown is the Deputy Law Director for the City of Mansfield, Ohio. He is active in the American Bar Association, serving as co-chair of the Young Lawyers Committee of the Section of the State and Local Government Law, chair of the ABA Young Lawyers Division (YLD) Government, Military and Public Sector Lawyers Committee, and as ABA YLD Council District Representative to Ohio and West Virginia. Mr. Brown is equally active in his state and local bar associations, where he was selected as a member of the 2016 Ohio State Bar Association Leadership Academy.
The City of Mansfield, Ohio, is a small city (population 50,000) with a small government (400 employees). As Deputy Law Director the majority of Brown’s practice involves advising city officials on the scope of their authority and compliance with various state and federal laws, including constitutional issues. He defends the city in state and federal court in a number of legal matters, including assisting in the successful defense of multiple § 1983 cases. He works on labor and employment issues ranging from routine disciplinary matters to defending the city in EEOC complaints and wrongful termination suits. Contract negotiation is another staple of Brown’s practice; notable examples include complex, multiparty land leases with the local Airlift Wing of the Ohio National Guard and a large-scale utility contract with a neighboring municipality. His experience includes defending the city in negotiations with the Ohio EPA, and he has been successful in administrative appeals, defending the decisions of the city’s Planning Commission before Ohio courts.
Mr. Brown is devoted to serving the profession and is active in the American Bar Association, the Ohio State Bar Association, the Ohio Municipal Attorneys Association, and the Richland County Bar Association, holding a number of leadership positions in each of these organizations. He regularly organizes and presents CLE programs and publishes with each of these organizations. He serves his community in non-legal capacities by volunteering in various community-oriented initiatives and participating in local politics. He serves on the Board of Directors of United Way of Richland County and on the Advisory Board for the Paralegal Program of North Central State College.
Mr. Brown is the vice-chair of the Section’s Ethics Committee—appointed after he won our annual Ethics Jeopardy by a wide margin—and is a key member in putting together critically acclaimed ethics programming. He also skillfully edits and compiles the Section’s monthly E-News, which is distributed nationally to all Section members and highlights key issues of importance to state and local government lawyers.
Mr. Brown entered law school with the aim of being a government lawyer and serving the public to the fullest of his ability. His past efforts as an advocate, counselor, volunteer, and leader for his city, the bar, and his community show that he is well deserving of the Up and Comer Award. His commitment to public service, desire to lead, and dedication to continuous self-improvement show his great promise for future achievement.