By Anna Gustafson
City Councilwoman Melinda Katz (D-Forest Hills) announced last week she will join one of the country’s largest law firms, Greenberg Traurig, after leaving public office at the end of December.
“I’m very excited about it,” said Katz, who lost her bid for city comptroller in September’s Democratic primary.
Katz, whose Council term will end Dec. 31, will be working for her new law firm’s government relations department and will split her time between New York City and Albany. Katz said she will practice law and lobby while at the firm.
Greenberg Traurig is the eighth-largest law firm in the United States with more than 1,750 lawyers, 300 of whom are in New York.
“Greenberg Traurig is a firm of global reach with a strong local commitment to New York City and Albany,” Katz said. “My early experience in a respected national law firm made me a stronger public servant. I now have the ability to bring that perspective to the practice of law at another great firm where clients can benefit from my understanding of the government process.”
The group is known as one of the largest lobbying firms in the city, and they have had such high-profile clients as Cisco Systems, American Medical Alert Corp., Extell Development Co. and Bovis Lend Lease.
State law prohibits Katz from ever lobbying on behalf of issues she worked on in the Council, which includes land use matters.
“We are pleased to bring Melinda on board and believe that her unique position in New York and her reputation for substance and understanding of the law will serve our clients well as she re-enters private practice,” said Richard Rosenbaum, president of Greenberg Traurig.
Katz began her legal career at Weil, Gotshal & Manges in 1990 and practiced as a securities litigator. She was elected to the state Assembly in 1994, where she served until 1998. Katz then worked in the Queens borough president’s office from 1999-2001 before being elected and serving in the Council from 2002 to the end of this month.
Katz was involved in moving a number of redevelopment projects through the Council Land Use Committee, which she has chaired for eight years, including initiatives in Forest Hills, Jamaica, Williamsburg in Brooklyn and Harlem.
The councilwoman said she is not ruling out another bid for office.
“You keep all options open,” Katz said. “I am still the Democratic district leader of this area. I still have my fund-raising operation in place. We plan to raise money for candidates across the United States, especially female candidates, so I’m looking forward to that.”
Reach reporter Anna Gustafson by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 174.