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Detroit’s top attorney steps down to lead law firm

Christine Ferretti
The Detroit News

Detroit — The city’s top lawyer is stepping down to become a managing partner for a Detroit-based firm.

After serving four years as Detroit’s corporation counsel, Melvin Butch Hollowell will step down at the end of the year, the city said Wednesday.

Hollowell will take on a new role at the Miller Law Firm in Detroit, a commercial litigation and consumer protection firm.

As managing partner, Hollowell will launch the firm’s Detroit office with the aim of expanding its national presence and bringing on new attorneys.

“The last four years has been a remarkable period in the life of our City. It has been the high honor of my professional career to have served as Corporation Counsel during this period, and I am very grateful to Mayor Mike Duggan and the Detroit City Council for giving me the opportunity to serve in this role,” Hollowell said in a statement released Wednesday.

“I also want to thank the talented men and women of the Law Department for their skill and dedication to justice.”

Hollowell managed the city’s legal process during its 2014 bankruptcy proceedings.

He has also helped the city reduce its litigation payouts nearly 50 percent, from a historic average of $30 million per year to $16 million in 2016.

Hollowell also led the case that ended the 11 years of Department of Justice oversight of the Detroit Police Department, which has saved the city $86,000 per month, officials said.

He also created the city’s Commercial Blight Unit to ensure property owners are complying with city regulations and created an Income Tax Unit, that’s collected $5.3 million.

In another initiative, Hollowell created Project Clean Slate, a program that has brought together 100 volunteer lawyers and law students to provide free legal representation for nonviolent criminal expungements, the city noted.

Duggan on Wednesday thanked Hollowell for his accomplishments in the administration

“Under Butch Hollowell’s leadership, not only has the city saved millions of dollars in lawsuit settlements that can be used for critical city services, his vigorous efforts to address the issues of commercial blight, illegal graffiti and illegal dumping have greatly improved the quality of life in Detroit’s neighborhoods,” Duggan said.

Duggan is expected to announce his nominee to replace Hollowell in the coming days.

The council is expected to set a hearing to confirm the appointment early next year when it returns from winter recess.

Council President Brenda Jones credited Hollowell for representing the city in key legislation, cutting lawsuit payouts and ensuring the city’s best interests have been protected.

“Under Butch’s leadership, excellent legal advice was provided to City Council, and we wish him well in this new chapter of his life,” she said.