City of Philadelphia

Office of the City Solicitor

Vanessa Garrett Harley

Chair, Social Services Law Group



Vanessa Garrett Harley at present is on leave of absence from the Law Department and is currently working as Deputy Commissioner, Children and Youth in the Department of Human Services. 


In Ms. Garrett Harley's absence, please contact Barbara A. Ash, Chief Deputy City Solicitor, Child Welfare Unit or Lynda H. Moore, Chief Deputy City Solicitor, Health and Adult Services Unit.


In March 2007, Vanessa Garrett Harley, Esquire was promoted to Chair of the Social Services Law Group.  In this position, she is responsible for providing legal advice to the City's social services agencies.  Ms. Garrett Harley supervises the work of both the Child Welfare Unit and the Health and Adult Services Unit.  The attorneys in the Child Welfare Unit represent the Department of Human Services (DHS) and the attorneys in the Health and Adult Services Unit represent the County Office of Mental Health and Mental Retardation, the Department of Public Health and the Office of Emergency Shelter and Services.


Ms. Garrett Harley joined the City of Philadelphia Law Department in September 2000 as a Deputy City Solicitor in the Claims, Major Trials Unit. She handled all phases of litigation from initial pleadings to arbitration and/or trial in the defense of major claims filed against the City of Philadelphia.  In 2002, Ms. Garrett Harley joined the Child Welfare Unit and represented DHS in all phases of family court litigation as well as appeared before the Department of Public Welfare's Bureau of Hearings and Appeals.  Ms. Garrett Harley was promoted to Divisional Deputy City Solicitor in 2003.


Prior to joining the Law Department, Ms. Garrett Harley was in private practice with the law firm of Bennett, Bricklin & Saltzburg, LLP in Philadelphia, PA from August 1999 to August 2000, where she specialized in insurance defense litigation.  Prior to that, she was employed as a Trial Attorney with the Law Offices of William Kimball as in-house counsel for the Prudential Insurance Company from September 1993 to July 1999. 


A 1985 graduate of Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. with a dual major in Government (Public Administration) and Sociology, Vanessa returned home to Philadelphia where she attended law school at Temple University receiving her J.D. in 1991.  She was admitted to the Pennsylvania Bar in December 1991 and the United States District Court Eastern District of Pennsylvania in January 1992.  While an evening student at Temple University Law School Vanessa was employed at the Office of the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania as a Paralegal Specialist.  Upon graduation from law school she received an appointment as a Special Assistant United States Attorney.  Ms. Garrett Harley left the United States Attorney's Office in 1993.


In 2007, Ms. Garrett Harley was selected by the Philadelphia Urban League to be a member of the 2007 Class of their Urban Leadership Forum.  This program is Philadelphia's first leadership development program dedicated to people of color.  It is designed to identify and train minority leaders and establish a forum for promoting effective leadership in all sectors of society. 


Child Welfare Unit
Health & Adult Services Unit
Department of Human Services
Department of Public Health
Office of Behavioral Health and Mental Retardation
OSH (Office of Supportive Housing)