A city committee on Thursday greenlighted the hiring of Michael Fackler as the city’s top attorney.
Fackler has been acting general counsel since Sept. 29, when he took over the interim position from former acting general counsel Bob Rhodes.
Now that the General Counsel Qualification Review Committee has approved Fackler, the mayor’s office is expected to introduce legislation asking City Council to confirm him to the post.
Jason Gabriel, chair of the Review Committee, says that process should take five or six weeks.
The committee last met in August and made a recommendation to hire former City Councilwoman and attorney Randy DeFoor, who was Mayor Donna Deegan’s first choice to lead the government law office. But DeFoor withdrew her name from consideration after it became clear there would be a lengthy battle with City Council to confirm her.
Fackler appears to be a less contested choice. “He’s got tremendous experience,” Council President Ron Salem told Jacksonville Today back in September.
Jacksonville’s Office of General Counsel has 46 attorneys, all assigned to work with the city and departments like the JEA, Duval County School District and the agencies that handle aviation, housing, the city port and the JTA. It also handles legal cases for the city’s five constitutional officers, the mayor, all 19 City Council members and more than 30 boards, commissions and departments.
That means the Office of General Counsel handles all commercial, personal injury and constitutional litigation between the city and residents, businesses and other public and private concerns, among other areas. But it does not provide legal advice to the public.
Fackler earned his undergraduate degree in 1994 from Northwestern University, followed by his law degree from the University of Florida College of Law in 2002, his biography states. He was a law clerk for U.S. District Court Judge Harvey Schlesinger, for the Middle District of Florida and an adjunct professor, teaching legal research and writing at Florida Coastal School of Law. He has spent 20 years as a practicing attorney and is currently a partner at Milam Howard Nicandri & Gillam P.A. on East Bay Street.
Fackler also has served as a board member, president, vice president and treasurer of the Jacksonville Historical Society. He is on the board of Jacksonville Area Legal Aid and the Riverside Presbyterian Church Basketball League.
On Wednesday, Fackler said he has observed a dedicated and talented team in the General Counsel’s Office since his first day and is looking forward to the challenges and opportunity the position provides.
He acknowledged a lack of specific government-attorney experience on his resume, but he said that also can provide a fresh perspective.
“I think it’s a great opportunity to challenge myself as a lawyer, as a person, as a leader,” Fackler said. “And I’m really excited to tackle that opportunity.”
Lead image: Michael Fackler discusses his observations of the General Counsel’s Office to a panel considering his appointment on Thursday, Oct. 26, 2023. | Casmira Harrison, Jacksonville Today