After three decades representing developers in deals as a partner at DLA Piper, veteran real estate lawyer John P. “Jack” Machen will be switching sides later this year as he joins Piper alum and City Solicitor George A. Nilson in the Baltimore City Law Department.
Machen will serve as a special chief solicitor for the department under an annual contract. His duties will include working closely with the Baltimore Development Corp., the city’s quasi-public economic development arm. Machen will draft and review documents for the BDC as well as other city departments and agencies.
“I’ve represented developers and been on the other side of the table for a long time,” Machen said lightly. “Starting in October, I’ll be on the side of the angels and it will be different.”
Machen will replace Steven D. Shattuck, who joined Nilson in 2007 when he took over as city solicitor. Nilson said Shattuck had retired from private practice before joining the city and had recently expressed an interest in giving retirement another go.
“Steve came to me about three or four months ago and said that at long last he was thinking about retiring — again,” Nilson said. “Half-jokingly, I told him that meant his responsibility was to find his replacement.”
Machen, meanwhile, was looking to try something new, and had thought about seeing if the BDC needed a lawyer when he learned about the position in Nilson’s office.
“I’ve been in private practice for 35 years and was starting to fish around for a change,” Machen said. “I just wanted to do something different.”
Nilson, who worked with Machen for many years before becoming city solicitor, said he jumped at the chance to bring Machen on board.
“He’s working for a fraction of what his service would cost in the private sector,” Nilson said. “He is an extraordinary catch for us.”
The Board of Estimates, the city’s spending panel, is scheduled to vote on Machen’s contract Wednesday morning. The initial contract is $99,000 for one year, starting Oct. 1. Nilson said he hopes Machen will stay on for at least five years.
Machen plans to retire from DLA Piper U.S. LLP at the end of September, take a long weekend and then start his new post in the city law department. Machen said it will be a big adjustment since he’s only worked for one firm since graduating from law school.
“I’m definitely a lifer; it’s a great place,” Machen said of his current firm. “My last job interview was in 1975 when I walked down the road from law school to find a summer job.”
Machen, 60, received his bachelor’s degree from Princeton University and his J.D. from the University of Maryland School of Law in 1977. He serves on the board of directors of National Public Radio affiliate WYPR and the board of trustees of the Baltimore Harbor Waterkeeper.
In another connection between the two men, Nilson won the Arthur W. Machen Jr. Award in 2008 from the Maryland Legal Services Corp. The award is named for Machen’s father, who was a driving force behind the Interest on Lawyer Trust Accounts (IOLTA) program in Maryland.
“He and his family have a long history with the legal profession in the state,” Nilson said.