Diego Rivera’s Battle of Detroit

The Law Department is headed by the Corporation Counsel, Melvin Butch Hollowell, who was appointed by the Mayor Mike Duggan, and confirmed by the City Council in January, 2014. The Law Department is comprised of seven divisions: Administration, FOIA, Governmental Affairs, Litigation, Labor/Employment & Workers Compensation, Transaction & Economic Development, Criminal Enforcement and Quality of Life. Each division, with the exception of the Administration Division, is responsible for a discrete area of the law and is made up of several sections.

The Law Department is required by Charter to represent the City of Detroit in all civil actions or proceedings filed against the city. The Corporation Counsel may also prosecute any action or proceeding in which the city has a legal interest when directed to do so by the Mayor. The Corporation Counsel is the City’s Prosecutor and shall institute, on behalf of the people, cases arising from the provisions of the Charter or City ordinances, and prosecute all actions for the recovery of fines, penalties and forfeitures.

The Law Department is responsible for providing advice and opinions to the Mayor, City Council, and all city agencies. The Law Department is also accountable for approving all contracts, bonds, and written instruments.  Upon the request of the Mayor or any member of City Council, the Law Department drafts any ordinance or resolution for introduction before City Council.

  Important Notice

Opinion of the Corporation Counsel Re First Amendment Rights and Regulations in City of Detroit Parks

View Corporation Counsel Opinion


The Law Department strives to deliver exceptional and efficient legal counseling and representation to the Executive and Legislative branches of City government as mandated by the City Charter.


  1. Maximize and monitor the level of client satisfaction with department services.
  2. Provide effective, ongoing and proactive advice and counseling to all city departments in order to assist them in accomplishing their business objectives and to eliminate or minimize to the greatest extent possible the potential for legal liability.
  3. Ensure attorney preparedness for all legal proceedings and client contacts.
  4. Provide necessary professional skills training to all lawyers and staff to maximize the quality and efficiency of legal services delivered to the City.
  5. Maximize the City’s financial solvency and business growth through aggressive collection of city revenues, effective representation in claims and litigation for and against the city, and effective and timely advice and representation of the city in commercial and development transactions.
  6. Effectively assist in community empowerment by vigorous prosecution of quality of life crimes, environmental and ordinance violations.