Municipal Attorney Robert Palmer reacts to praise for his service from Juneau Assembly members after his resignation was announced during an Assembly meeting Monday night. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

Municipal Attorney Robert Palmer reacts to praise for his service from Juneau Assembly members after his resignation was announced during an Assembly meeting Monday night. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

Municipal Attorney Robert Palmer resigning to take job with Anchorage law firm

Palmer, a CBJ attorney since 2014, plans to depart Aug. 31 to allow time to search for successor.

Robert Palmer, municipal attorney for the City and Borough of Juneau since 2018, said Monday he is resigning to take a job with an Anchorage-based law firm where he will continue to work on municipal as well as other legal issues.

“I have a nice opportunity to move up to a law firm up in Anchorage, but I get to continue to live in Juneau and then commute up a few times a month, and I’m really looking forward to being able to continue to live here in Juneau. This is where home is,” he said following a Juneau Assembly meeting Monday night where his resignation was publicly announced.

The law firm he’s moving to is involved in both municipal and private practice, Palmer said.

“Municipal work is something that I truly love and enjoy, and so I get to keep that and then take on some new challenges for private clients,” he said.

In an email to the Assembly, Palmer also noted the new job will allow him to “spend more time with family.”

Palmer said he is planning to depart as CBJ’s attorney on Aug. 31, although the exact date is flexible, allowing time for a successor to be chosen.

“One of the goals that I had was to give the Assembly and the community and the school district enough time to be able to go through a hiring process,” he said. As for the potential pool of candidates “I think there’s a good group of people in Juneau and I think there’s a great group of people across Alaska who are interested, and hopefully there’ll be some folks from down south that will also apply.”

The announcement of his departure was made during the Assembly meeting by City Manager Katie Koester, who said she’s hoping to publish a job vacancy announcement for the municipal attorney’s job on Tuesday.

“Huge shoes to fill,” she said. “We’re super excited of course for him in the next adventure but, boy, this is going to be a tough one.”

A draft of the job announcement states the starting annual salary is $175,000, but the actual salary is negotiable. The listing states the candidate should have at least ten years of “municipal, legislative, or large organization legal experience, and have demonstrated competence and knowledge in a broad range of municipal legal issues including; land use, insurance, labor and employee relations.”

The first round of applications is scheduled to be reviewed starting June 14, according to the announcement.

Palmer, who came to Juneau from the Seattle area, managed a ski patrol program during winters and worked for the National Park Service during summers before becoming an attorney. He went to work for a small law firm outside Seattle before accepting a job as an assistant municipal attorney in Juneau in 2014.

The Assembly unanimously selected him as the new municipal attorney on Aug. 29, 2018, when Amy Mead, who had served in that role since 2013, became a Juneau Superior Court judge.

Palmer, when asked what he’s learned since taking the job in 2018 that he would pass on as knowledge to a successor, cited the legalities related to cruise ship tourism.

“Cruise ship litigation was one of the more challenging things when I first started and it’s kind of interesting that we’re maybe touching that topic again as I transition out,” he said.

As municipal attorney Palmer was responsible for overseeing a wide range of legal areas involving various CBJ entities and the Juneau School District, which he cited as one of the highlights of the job.

“It’s been an absolute honor to be able to serve this community and the Assembly and the school district,” he said. “I think it is one of the greatest forms of government that we have. I think we should all appreciate that, even though it can be hard to see through sometimes.”

• Contact Mark Sabbatini at mark.sabbatini@juneauempire.com or (907) 957-2306.

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