City Attorney Robert Palmer (left) shakes hands with Mayor Ken Koelsch moments after being named the City and Borough of Juneau’s municipal attorney. Palmer replaces Amy Mead, who was selected to be a Superior Court judge this summer. (Alex McCarthy | Juneau Empire)

City Attorney Robert Palmer (left) shakes hands with Mayor Ken Koelsch moments after being named the City and Borough of Juneau’s municipal attorney. Palmer replaces Amy Mead, who was selected to be a Superior Court judge this summer. (Alex McCarthy | Juneau Empire)

Robert Palmer selected as head municipal attorney

Assembly unanimously picks Palmer after Amy Mead’s departure

With a unanimous vote Wednesday, the members of the City and Borough of Juneau Assembly selected Robert Palmer to be the new municipal attorney.

Palmer, who has been an assistant municipal attorney for the city since 2014, said in an interview Wednesday that he was honored to be selected.

“I think municipal law is one of the closest avenues to the people,” Palmer said, “and it’s true in Juneau more so than anywhere else because we have a really active and informed community that cares.”

Palmer takes the place of Amy Mead, who was in that role for the city since 2013. Earlier this summer, Mead was selected to become a judge on the Juneau Superior Court. The role of municipal attorney is one of two staff positions that the Assembly members select (the other is the city manager), so it was up to the Assembly members to select Mead’s replacement.

They went in-house with their selection, and Palmer said this can help the law department maintain some continuity after Mead’s departure. Palmer called Mead “a fantastic resource” and said she’s been helpful over the years in teaching him the ropes.

Palmer’s salary will be $140,000 per year, the Assembly members said during their special Assembly meeting Wednesday. Palmer’s familiarity with local cases will come in handy in cases such as the Cruise Lines International Association of Alaska’s lawsuit against the city.

In his role as an assistant municipal attorney, Palmer has spent his time providing legal counsel to multiple city departments and the Planning Commission. He has also negotiated contracts and litigated a number of property, personal injury and tax cases.

“Robert has a firm grasp on present litigation, current community issues and has worked with city departments, enterprise boards, and the school district,” Mayor Ken Koelsch said in a city release. “He has also built solid relationships with fellow employees in the Law department and has a vision to utilize everyone’s strengths.”

Prior to coming to Juneau in 2014, Palmer was working for a small law firm outside Seattle. He’s from the Seattle area, he said, and earned a Bachelor of Science in Geology from the University of Washington in 2002 before getting his law degree from Seattle University.

Before becoming a lawyer, according to the city release, Palmer worked at a large ski area managing a ski patrol program in the winters. In the summers, he worked for the National Park Service as a park ranger, law enforcement officer and as a wildland firefighter supervising a 20-person crew.


• Contact reporter Alex McCarthy at 523-2271 or amccarthy@juneauempire.com. Follow him on Twitter at @akmccarthy.


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