New York City government lifts residency requirements for some lawyer positions amid shortage

New York City government lifts residency requirements for some lawyer positions amid shortage

Faced with a new challenge in hiring in a post-pandemic hybrid world of work, New York City is returning to a long-standing approach to attracting talent — dropping residency requirements for particularly hard-to-recruit positions.

The City confirmed to City & State that several civil service titles for attorneys — including Internal Prosecutor’s Office, Agency Counsel and Executive Agency Counsel — were added last month to the so-called “hard to recruit” list of titles. that the city routinely struggles to hire. The move applies to every city agency that is authorized to hire for those positions. And that means candidates who get the job don’t have to live in the five boroughs, or move quickly after being hired.

The hard-to-recruit list, which existed long before the pandemic, consists of a variety of positions and includes occupations that come with much higher salaries in the private sector, such as engineers or IT specialists. The civil service title of assistant corporate counsel, for example, was already added to the hard-to-recruit list in 2000.

“The administration is committed to aggressively recruiting and retaining talent across city government, even amid a statewide workforce shortage affecting both the public and private sectors,” Mayoral spokesman Jonah Allon wrote in an email. . “This policy change will allow us the flexibility needed to bring attorneys into these roles to serve the greatest city in the world and ‘Get Stuff Done’ for New Yorkers.”

An email sent to at least some city attorneys and reviewed by City & State announced the exemption of those attorney titles from the residency requirement for city employees. The change opens the pool of applicants to those who not only live outside of New York City, but also out of state — for example in New Jersey or Connecticut. All municipal employees are still required to report to work each day in person.

Typically, city employees are required to live in New York City or establish residency within 90 days of entering city service. However, after working for the city for at least two years, employees are generally able to continue to meet residency requirements even if they live in Nassau, Westchester, Suffolk, Orange, Rockland or Putnam counties.

On the city’s employment website, job openings under newly exempt civil service titles include a staff counsel position at the Department of Consumer and Worker Protection and a legal compliance attorney at the Administration for Children’s Services, for example.

Lawyers aren’t the only roles the city has struggled to hire for recently. Earlier this month, New York City Comptroller Brad Lander reported a nearly 8% citywide vacancy rate since October, while State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli recently reported about 21,000 unfilled city positions since August. However, the City is planning to eliminate many of those vacant positions. Current and former employees say recruitment and retention have been hurt by relatively low wages, a slow hiring process and a lack of flexibility to work remotely.

This fall, Mayor Eric Adams unveiled a new tactic to attract lawyers to city service — a new Legal Fellows program that will hire early-career associates at private sector firms for short stints in city service. At the time, Adams said that was just one aspect of how the city plans to recruit more attorneys. While the administration hasn’t shared much about its broader hiring plans since then, removing residency requirements for many attorney positions is clearly part of that plan.

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