PHILADELPHIA – Mayor Jim Kenney announced today that City Solicitor, Diana Cortes, will depart from her role as the City of Philadelphia’s Chief Legal Officer. Cortes has accepted an offer to rejoin the litigation team at the esteemed law firm of Morgan Lewis. For 150 years, Morgan Lewis has provided high-quality litigation, corporate, labor and employment and intellectual property services to clients across industry sectors and regions around the world. Cortes will continue to serve as the City Solicitor through Friday, November 10, 2023. First Deputy City Solicitor, Kristin Bray, will step in to serve as interim City Solicitor after the departure of Cortes. “I am deeply grateful for Diana Cortes’ leadership and service to our city over the last three years. Diana’s counsel has been invaluable to this Administration and its response to the global pandemic, historic civil unrest and necessary reforms, and a troubling proliferation of firearms in our communities. She has advocated brilliantly and successfully on behalf of Philadelphia residents to address a range of health, safety, and quality of life challenges, and championed significant progress within the City and its Law Department. Her impact as Solicitor will be felt for generations to come,” said Mayor Jim Kenney. “First Deputy Solicitor Kristin Bray has also been a vital contributor in our efforts to protect the rights and quality of life of all residents, and I am confident that she will continue to build on the exceptional work of our City’s Law Department as she takes on the role of Interim City Solicitor.”Cortes joined the Law Department in 2018 as the Chair of the Litigation Group. In 2020, she was appointed by Mayor Jim Kenney as Philadelphia’s first Latina City Solicitor. In this role, she served as general counsel to the Mayor and his Administration, City Council and all City departments, agencies, boards and commissions and managed over 215 lawyers and over 100 professional staff at the Law Department. Cortes began her legal practice at Morgan Lewis as a Litigation Associate focusing on white-collar criminal defense and complex commercial litigation. She then became an Assistant District Attorney at the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office and later joined Marshall Dennehey Warner Coleman & Goggin, P.C.  As Solicitor, Cortes led efforts to address some of the city’s most complex challenges through the legal system. Cortes led the City’s legal endeavors to recover nearly $100,000 in fines and clean up costs from short dumpers and sued manufacturers who pollute our communities and natural resources with synthetic chemicals. She also advised the City on its groundbreaking plastic bag ban, which is estimated to have prevented over 200 million single-use bags from ending up in the first year of its implementation.   Cortes advised City Council and the Administration on the City’s efforts in police reform and gun violence prevention. She worked with City Council and the Administration to establish the Citizens Police Oversight Commission, supported the drafting of an Executive Order to limit the use of vehicle stops that have historically impacted BIPOC at a disproportionate rate, and her Law Department successfully defended the legal challenge to the Executive Order. She also advised the Philadelphia Police Department in its Collective Bargaining Agreement, which implemented several key reforms including the Police Termination Arbitration Board, arbitrators who will preside over termination cases and at least 40% of whom will be people who identify as women, people of color, or other underrepresented groups.During Cortes’ time as Solicitor, the City worked to hold bad actors who are perpetuating violence and addiction in our communities accountable. Cortes led the City to initiate a lawsuit against ghost gun manufacturers and stores facilitating illegal straw purchase transactions, and challenged the state’s Firearms Preemption laws in front of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. Under the counsel of Cortes, the City settled its litigation with four opioid manufacturers, resulting in a settlement agreement under which the City will receive more than $200 Million in compensation over 15 years to fund substance use education, addiction treatment, harm reduction and overdose prevention efforts – and targeted engagement for communities most affected by the opioid crisis. Cortes also advised the City to reach a settlement with developer, I.B.I.D. in the case of I.B.I.D. Associates Limited Partnership v. Councilmember Jamie Gauthier and the City of Philadelphia, which included terms to preserve affordable housing and provide comprehensive relocation support to affordable housing tenants. She also provided counsel to the City in negotiations for a landmark settlement with the School District of Philadelphia, which will allocate $2.5 million to District to improve data management associated with environmental hazard reporting.Cortes championed efforts to enhance diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in the Law Department. In her time in office, she implemented the use of DEI assessments in staff performance evaluations, DEI competency questions in recruiting interviews, and the use of career ladders to better address biases in the promotion and career growth process. “I have had an incredible tenure where we as a City had to address unprecedented legal and policy issues. I am grateful and blessed to have worked with an Administration, City Council and Law Department that were motivated to do what was right for the city, and not what was easy. I have an incredible opportunity to return to Morgan Lewis, where I first learned to practice law, now at the highest level,” said Diana Cortes“I will miss my City colleagues, in particular the Law Department’s brilliant and committed public servants whose daily work ensures the City can operate. I am confident that Kristin Bray will successfully lead the Law Department and the Administration through the upcoming transition. She is a phenomenal attorney, public servant and person. The Law Department and the City’s legal advice are in excellent hands with Kristin.”  Before being named the First Deputy City Solicitor, Kristin served as the Chief Deputy City Solicitor of the Code and Public Nuisance Litigation Unit, leading the Unit to improve the quality of life in many underserved communities by effectively removing nuisances and blighted properties. Kristin previously served the federal government and our armed services, as a trial attorney and, eventually, senior trial attorney, at the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA), Troop Support. In that role, she successfully litigated complex, multi-billion and multi-million-dollar contract disputes before federal courts and federal administrative hearing boards.  She started her career as an Assistant City Solicitor in the Law Department following a clerkship with the Commonwealth Court.“Legal excellence was the hallmark of Solicitor Cortes’ tenure. I am humbled and honored to continue her outstanding legacy. I am also incredibly proud of and thankful for the tremendous work the Law Department’s attorneys and staff do every day to support our communities. I look forward to continuing these efforts so as to improve the quality of life for all Philadelphians,” said Kristin Bray.Diana Cortes’ headshot can be found here.Kristin Bray’s headshot can be found here.