Syracuse, N.Y. — Kristen Smith is stepping down as Syracuse’s top lawyer and will be replaced by an attorney with three decades of practice in public finance, economic development incentives, municipal law and bankruptcy law.
Mayor Ben Walsh announced Monday that Smith was leaving city government after four years as corporation counsel and will return to private practice.
He appointed Susan Katzoff, a member of the Syracuse law firm of Bousquet Holstein, to replace Smith. Katzoff has served since 2007 as outside counsel to the Syracuse Industrial Development Agency, the city agency that provides tax breaks and other incentives to economic development projects in the city.
Katzoff received her law degree from St. John’s University School of Law in 1991. She has represented multiple public and quasi-public entities and municipalities, including industrial development agencies, local development corporations and port authorities in public finance transactions throughout New York.
“Sue Katzoff is widely respected in Syracuse and across New York State for her expertise in local government and economic development,” Walsh said in a statement. “Our residents and city government alike will be served well by Sue. She brings the passion for our city and the capabilities necessary to fulfill the duties of corporation counsel.”
Katzoff will lead the Department of Law, which handles the city’s litigation, legislative drafting, contracting, real estate transactions, collections and other legal matters.
Walsh said Katzoff will maintain an “of counsel” affiliation with Bousquet Holstein. “Of counsel” is a term law firms use to describe attorneys who are not active members of the firm but are available for occasional consultation.
Walsh said Smith is returning to Bond Schoeneck & King, the Syracuse-based firm where she was a partner prior to joining his administration. Smith succeeded Frank Price when he stepped down as corporation counsel in 2018 just a month and a half into the job.
“While I am sad to see her go, I am thankful to Kristen for the time she spent serving the people of Syracuse and for the many contributions she made to our community during her tenure,” said Mayor Walsh.
Walsh said Smith implemented major staffing, organizational and performance improvements to the city Law Department and improved responsiveness and efficiency to requests under the Freedom of Information Law.
He said she also played key roles in strengthening the city’s approach to housing protection and code enforcement and led the Law Department’s enactment of the city’s lead abatement ordinance. During her tenure, the city seized the former Syracuse Developmental Center property on the West Side over unpaid taxes.