NEW ORLEANS, LA -- Today, City Attorney Richard Cortizas announced he will be leaving his post on May 3, 2013. He is leaving after three years of service to pursue a private law practice with the Jones Walker law firm. Richard Cortizas has served as City Attorney since October 2011. In this capacity, he has been responsible for directing and supervising the legal affairs of the City of New Orleans and serves both the executive and legislative branches of City government. Previously, he was Mayor Landrieu’s Executive Counsel from May 2010 to October 2011.
“Richard has been a key member of our team and a true public servant for our city,” said Mayor Landrieu. “He was a part of the team that negotiated the NOPD consent decree. He has overseen a turnaround of the contracting process in the Law Department and a major increase in ABO prosecutions. I want to personally thank Richard for his hard work and service on behalf the people of New Orleans.”
As City Attorney, Cortizas put a particular focus on improving contracting practices, including introducing a new streamlined process. As a result, the time it takes for a contract to be reviewed, routed, and approved by the Law Department has been reduced significantly, which has improved the ability of the City to provide and procure services for the public.
Cortizas also devoted a team of attorneys to focus on prosecuting nuisance ABOs (alcoholic beverage outlets) that threatened the health, safety, and welfare of our citizens and visitors. And Cortizas’ team helped oversee the many legal challenges to taxicab reform. As the Mayor’s Executive Counsel, he was intimately involved in the negotiations, purchase, and planning of a new hospital in New Orleans East.
Cortizas stated, “It has been a tremendous honor to serve the people of New Orleans.”
Upon his departure, Sharonda Williams, who serves as Chief Deputy City Attorney for Litigation, will be promoted to City Attorney.
Williams joined the City Attorney’s office in 2011. In her current role, she has supervised and managed lawyers and staff on all litigation matters, as well as matters related to civil service, alcohol beverage control, risk management, public records, and transactional matters involving the City of New Orleans. She has also been the lead City Attorney on matters relating to the taxi cab reform litigation and the Orleans Parish Sheriff’s Office consent decree cases.
“I look forward to continuing to serve the City of New Orleans in this new role,” Williams said.
Prior to joining City Hall, Williams was a partner at Sher Garner Cahill Richter Klein & Hilbert LLC. She was the first African American to become a partner at the firm.
Williams graduated summa cum laude from Xavier University and cum laude from Loyola University’s College of Law, where she was a member of the Loyola Law Review. Upon receiving her law degree, Williams worked as an intellectual property lawyer at Kilpatrick Stockton in Atlanta. She is admitted to the bar in Georgia and Louisiana and the United States patent bar.
Williams is extremely active in both legal and community organizations. She serves as a past president of the Greater New Orleans Louis A. Martinet Legal Society and past regional director of the National Bar Association. She served as Chair of the Judiciary Commission of Louisiana from 2010-2011. She is currently President of the Board for Bridge House and serves on Loyola and Loyola Law School Alumni Associations, and New Orleans Association for Women Attorneys. She has had various leadership roles in and awards from the Louisiana State Bar Association and National Bar Association. Locally, she was honored by Gambit Weekly as a “40 under 40” honoree in 2010 and as a City Business “Women of the Year” honoree in 2011.