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Jax Daily Record Monday, Oct. 4, 202107:44 PM EST

Committee recommends interim Jason Teal be named city’s top attorney

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Administration officials expect to file a bill this month to nominate him as general counsel.
by: Mike Mendenhall Staff Writer

A Qualification Review Committee of current and former city officials and attorneys voted Oct. 4 to recommend Mayor Lenny Curry nominate city acting General Counsel Jason Teal for the permanent position.

The committee voted 5-0 to recommend Teal as the city’s top attorney after it received no additional applications for the job.

Curry appointed Teal, a 21-year general counsel office attorney, to the interim role in July after former General Counsel Jason Gabriel announced his resignation to return to private practice.

The review committee was chaired by Gabriel and included former Mayor John Delaney; ADB Legal Partner attorney Michelle Bedoya Barnett; Milam Howard Nicandri & Gillam shareholder attorney and Downtown Investment Authority board Chair W. Braxton Gillam; and Orr Cook Managing Partner and Jacksonville Bar Association President Michael Orr.

Teal began working as a city attorney in October 2000 and was a deputy general counsel overseeing the Regulatory and Constitutional Law Department before being named interim general counsel.

Teal represents city elected officials and independent authorities, purchasing and bid protests, personnel and employment matters and real estate and foreclosure cases, among other areas.

“It’s one of those decisions you don’t take lightly,” Teal said after the vote. 

“Being with the General Counsel’s Office for 20-plus years, I have a good understanding of what the role of the general counsel is and the importance of that position in the charter.” 

Curry Executive Assistant Sharyn Conway told the committee the city received no applications after it voted Sept. 14 to issue a two-week ad for the job. 

Gabriel said the job also was marketed through the Jacksonville Bar Association.

The City Council still approve Teal as general counsel.

After the vote, city Chief Administrative Officer Brian Hughes said the Curry administration will file the legislation “as soon as possible.”

According to the city charter, the mayor and Council have 90 days from the vacancy to fill the general counsel position. In this case, that would be 90 days from Aug. 9. 

Hughes said the bill could be filed as early as Oct. 6, but no later than Oct. 20.

“With no other applications, the process is done. We followed the charter and we’ll advance the legislation,” Hughes said.

Gabriel officially left the city Aug. 7 for a position in private practice in Burr & Forman’s Jacksonville office. 

According to its website, Burr & Forman has 19 offices and employs 350 attorneys with a focus on business law in financial, health care and manufacturing.

“This was an excellent opportunity at an excellent firm in the private sector (that) came up that I could not pass up,” Gabriel said in a July 14 email.

Gabriel’s salary was $229,325 per year.

Former Mayor Alvin Brown appointed Gabriel acting general counsel in May 2014, a month after attorney Cindy Laquidara announced she would leave the position for a job with the Akerman Senterfitt law firm. 

Curry named Gabriel permanent general counsel in June 2015. 

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