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Acting city solicitor set to put her own imprint on Baltimore’s law department

Dana Moore, acting city solicitor for Baltimore, speaks at a rally focused on opposing non-disparagement agreements on New Year's Day. (The Daily Record / Louis Krauss)

Dana Moore, acting city solicitor for Baltimore, speaks at a rally focused on opposing non-disparagement agreements on New Year’s Day. (The Daily Record / Louis Krauss)

Since taking over last week for Baltimore City Solicitor Andre Davis, who stepped down at the end of February, Dana Moore is pondering a number of ways to improve the efficiency of the city’s law department, with cost-cutting measures if needed.

“If I can find a way to cut costs and spend less, I think it’s my obligation to do that,” the acting city solicitor said Monday. “We have to be cost conscious but also smart about how we handle the work for Baltimore.”

Asked if layoffs are under consideration, Moore said it’s her goal to keep everyone employed in the city’s law department and that she would like to find a way to raise current employees’ salaries. But she said the idea of trimming the staff, if it’s required, has crossed her mind.

“I have not been asked to let people go, but as I said: Be prepared,” Moore said. “If I’m asked to do that, it will be done in a thoughtful, deliberate way. I do think about it, it’s something I didn’t think about until Feb. 1 when I realized the solicitor was really going to go.”

At the moment, the city’s law department has 70 attorneys on staff, Moore said.

Moore said it’s been a smooth transition so far, and she confirmed the retirements of two city attorneys, and the end of a work relationship the city had with a contractual lawyer.

Sharon Snyder, a chief solicitor for the law department, retired around the same time that Davis left, Moore said. Snyder’s position has already been filled. Matthew Nayden, chief of litigation for the city and Snyder’s husband, also plans to retire, in April, Moore said.

Nayden’s position has not been filled, but Moore said it would be a promotion within the department and not an outside hire.

Moore said the retirements, which took place around the same time as Davis’ departure, were planned long beforehand and that Davis’ resignation wasn’t why they decided to leave.

One longtime city lawyer, who asked not to be named, said there had been speculation among city lawyers about whether attorneys would decide to retire or leave the city’s law department because of their close association with the departed Davis.

“It felt like the mood seemed to change, where there was definitely an Andre Davis regime and then a Dana Moore regime,” the attorney said. “She does have a reputation for scrutinizing attorneys and other employees’ productivity.”

In an interview, Nayden said his decision to retire was planned and not connected to Davis’ departure.

Moore also said she recently decided to end the city’s relationship with Drew Bailey, a former longtime employee of the city who handled housing condemnation cases on a contractual basis.

Moore said she decided to stop using Bailey because the city already has four full-time employees who handle condemnation work.

“It just didn’t make sense to continue having someone coming in once a month for work, it was not a practical relationship,” she said.

Bailey declined to comment on the specifics of his work with the city or his departure.

The city attorney who spoke confidentially said Moore has a track record of involvement in the day-to-day operations of the law department.

“It seemed her role may have been very hands-on as a deputy in the day-to- day management, and that she would only get more involved in the day-to-day activities now that she is the city solicitor,” the attorney said.

Along with improving efficiency, Moore said she has a goal to hire more attorneys for the city in the coming weeks and months, specifically in areas like police legal affairs litigation and complex real estate transactions.

In describing her main differences from Davis, Moore said that while Davis was “the one who wanted to rush in and litigate everything, I’m the one who wants to slow down, moderate and mediate.”

“It made us a pretty good pair,” Moore said.

Moore noted that she doesn’t anticipate the mayor picking a permanent replacement for Davis until late April after the city’s primary elections. Moore said that if asked, she would stay on in a more permanent role.

“I’ve been practicing for a while, and I love representing Baltimore,” Moore said. “I truly have enjoyed the work I’ve done here since November 2017.”

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