Diana Cortes (she/her/ella) is the City Solicitor, the City of Philadelphia’s chief legal officer. She was appointed by the Mayor on December 11, 2020. She serves as general counsel to the Mayor and his Administration, City Council, and all City departments, agencies, boards, and commissions. She manages the City’s Law Department, which employs over 215 lawyers and over 100 professional staff. The Law Department’s diverse legal practice covers federal, state, and local agency litigation, commercial and real estate transactions, tax, regulatory law, social services, and legislation.
Prior to joining the Law Department, Diana was a litigator at Marshall Dennehey Warner Coleman & Goggin, P.C. in its Professional Liability Department. She represented municipalities, school districts, and police officers in civil rights litigation involving excessive force, wrongful arrest, due process violations, and malicious prosecution, among other matters.
Prior to Marshall Dennehey, she was an assistant district attorney for the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office, where she tried felony jury trials. She also worked in the Juvenile Division of the District Attorney’s Office, where she worked with juvenile victims of sex crimes in testifying against their adult perpetrators. Before the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office, Diana was an attorney at Morgan Lewis & Bockius, LLP in its Litigation Department. There, her practice included a wide range of commercial litigation and white-collar criminal defense matters.
Diana began her legal career as a law clerk for the Honorable Juan R. Sánchez of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. She is a graduate of Villanova University School of Law and Cornell University.
Diana is a member of the Hispanic Bar Association of Pennsylvania and the Philadelphia Diversity Law Group. She is also fluent in Spanish.
As First Deputy City Solicitor, Craig M. Straw (he/him) is responsible for assisting the City Solicitor in the oversight and management of the Law Department. Based on his extensive litigation background, Craig provides litigation support and consultation on significant matters impacting City-wide initiatives, programs and policies.
Craig received his undergraduate and law degrees from Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He earned his law degree while working for a City of Pittsburgh Council member, who recently retired from the Pennsylvania State Senate. After graduating from law school, Craig worked for seven years as an assistant city solicitor for the City of Pittsburgh. During his tenure with the City of Pittsburgh Law Department, he primarily handled civil rights litigation involving the City of Pittsburgh Police Department. In 2006, he joined the Civil Rights Unit of the City of Philadelphia Law Department. In 2007, Craig was named the chief deputy of the Civil Rights Unit and maintained that position until being named the first deputy city solicitor in March of 2016.
In addition to his responsibilities as first deputy city solicitor, Craig mentors aspiring and new attorneys as an adjunct professor in the Intensive Trial Advocacy Program at Temple University School of Law, judging law school moot court competitions and being a faculty member of the National Institute of Trial Advocacy.
Andrew Richman (he/him) serves as chief of staff to City Solicitor Diana Cortes and has worked for the City of Philadelphia Law Department since 2009. He has served in his current position, as chief of staff, since January 2016.
As Chief of Staff, Andrew provides support to the City solicitor and counsels City departments on significant issues impacting City initiatives, programs and policies. He assists the Solicitor on a variety of special projects, including many cross-unit initiatives. Andrew also coordinates the department’s press communications and internal communications efforts.
From 2009 to 2015, Andrew worked in the Code & Public Nuisance Litigation Unit, first as an assistant city solicitor and then as deputy city solicitor. He received his undergraduate degree from the University of Pennsylvania in 2002 and his law degree from Temple University in 2009.
As chair of the Social Services Group, Nicolette Burgess-Bolden (she/her) oversees the following units:
- Child Welfare
- Health & Adult Services
- HIPAA & Privacy Law
Nicolette began her career at the Law Department in April 2001, as an assistant city solicitor at the former Health and Human Services Unit, where she litigated child abuse and neglect cases and appeared in mental health hearings. She was later promoted to deputy city solicitor, divisional deputy city solicitor, and preceding her appointment as chair of the Social Services Law Group, Nicolette served as the inaugural chief of administration and specialty practice since September 2017 with the restructuring and expansion of the Child Welfare Unit. During her 19-year tenure of public service at the City of Philadelphia Law Department, Nicolette had the honor and privilege of serving the city’s most vulnerable population—the youth at risk of abuse, neglect, and delinquency—as a member of the Child Welfare Unit. Prior to joining the Law Department, Nicolette was an associate with the Law Office of Leon W. Tucker, Esquire where she specialized in trial advocacy and plaintiff and defense civil litigation. Nicolette is a graduate of Spelman College and North Carolina Central University School of Law.
As Chair of the Litigation Group, Renee Garcia (she/her) oversees litigation matters and supervises the following litigation units:
- Affirmative & Special Litigation
- Civil Rights
- Tort Litigation
- Code & Public Nuisance Litigation
- Labor & Employment
Prior to joining the Law Department, Renee served as managing senior counsel at PNC Bank, overseeing litigation and escalated customer complaints arising from the bank’s consumer products, as well as directly managing litigation related to PNC’s wealth management services. At PNC, she also chaired the PNC Legal Pro Bono Committee. Renee has personally provided pro bono legal services through the SeniorLAW Center, the Pennsylvania Innocence Project, Support Center for Child Advocates, and the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund, among others.
Prior to relocating to Philadelphia, Renee was an associate at the law firm Hogan Lovells US LLP with a focus on financial services litigation. Renee received her J.D. from Harvard Law School in 2008 and her B.A. from Barnard College, Columbia University in 2003.
She is on the board of the Hispanic Bar Association of Pennsylvania and arts nonprofit Intercultural Journeys, and previously served as a director on the boards of Community Legal Services/Philadelphia Legal Assistance.
Renee is the recipient of the 2020 AL DÍA Top In-House Lawyer Award; the 2017 PNC Market All-Star Award; the 2017 Hispanic Association on Corporate Responsibility, Young Hispanic Corporate Achiever Award; and the 2015 Rising Star Corporate Counsel Award from the Philadelphia Business Journal. She is also a Fellow, Pathfinder, and a Mentor with the Leadership Counsel on Legal Diversity.
Valerie Robinson (she/her) is the chair of the Corporate and Tax Group where she is responsible for providing advice to the city solicitor, the first deputy city solicitor and other City officials on corporate (commercial, transactional, and regulatory) and tax matters. The Corporate and Tax Group consists of the following five units:
- Commercial Law
- Real Estate & Development
- Regulatory Law
- Tax & Revenue
- Property Assessment
Prior to her appointment as the chair of the Corporate and Tax Group, Valerie served as an assistant and deputy city solicitor in the Finance and Contracts Division of the Law Department and as a senior attorney in the Intellectual Property Division. She has handled a wide range of commercial transactions. That includes construction and benefits contracts, as well as municipal finance matters, commission agreements for artwork, and licenses for film, performances, and events. She served as lead counsel for the City in the papal visit and Democratic National Convention transactions. Her clients have included the Managing Director’s Office; the Greater Philadelphia Film Office; the Department of Parks and Recreation; the Office of Arts, Culture and the Creative Economy; and the City Representative’s Office.
Born in New York City and raised in Michigan, she earned her undergraduate degree from the University of Michigan and her Juris Doctorate from Villanova University School of Law.
Valerie is an active member of numerous social service organizations.
David Torres (he/him) is Director of Administration for the City of Philadelphia’s Law Department, and has held this title since 2020. In this role, he serves as principal administrative and fiscal officer for the department.
He oversees the following areas:
- Human Resources
- Information Technology
- Contract Administration
David has been an employee of the City of Philadelphia since 2008, and has served in the Mayor’s Office, Inspector General’s Office, and Managing Director’s Office prior to joining the Law Department.
David is a graduate of Temple University, with a Bachelor’s degree in Adult and Organizational Development (2007).