Ellen M. Harris, Senior Counsel to law firm Norris McLaughlin, P.A., has been appointed Township Attorney/Law Director for Hillside, New Jersey. She will be responsible for all legal matters for the township, including the supervision of several outside counsel firms for specialty areas. Hillside, located in Union County, has approximately 300 employees with a budget of $44,000,000.00.
“I am honored to be named Law Director for the Township of Hillside. Hillside is a great community with an Administrative team that works hard to serve the best interests of the Township and its people,” stated Harris.
Mayor Dahlia Vertreese personally tapped Harris as her mid-term choice to assist in accomplishing the goals of her administration that require legal guidance.
“I am happy to have Ellen on board. She has demonstrated capacity to handle our legal issues, and has already begun to establish relationships with the staff that indicate a path to approachable and helpful solutions for Hillside,” stated Vertreese.
With 12 years of experience as Chief Legal Officer at Newark Housing Authority, Harris has a strong background in municipal and federal law, contract negotiations, arbitration, mediation, transactional real estate, and eminent domain matters. She has handled transactions involving the acquisition of hundreds of properties, resulting in the relocation of thousands of residents and businesses within 77 redevelopment areas.
Harris is experienced in negotiating and creating comprehensive agreements for construction projects, redevelopment agreements with private parties, and lease of facilities projects (government-owned assets). She negotiates binding Letters of Intent and term sheets as the framework for final agreements, and coordinates with bond counsel, city, federal, and state agencies, and financial consultants to assist in analyzing risks, rewards, and requirements for the agreement under negotiation. Harris understands best practices and industry standards in public/private partnerships.
Harris’s experience gives her an understanding of asset management, management and labor relations, bond responsibilities, redevelopment agreements, coordination with a multi-governmental approval process, and reaching agreements with stakeholders holding varying opinions and interests. Further, as Chief Legal Officer and Executive Director at Newark Housing Authority, Harris developed the ability to strategically negotiate and efficiently guide transactions to minimize risk and complications for her clients.
Harris has been recognized for personal and professional achievements throughout her career, including the “Woman of Achievement Award” from the Tri-County Scholarship Foundation and the “General Counsel of the Year” from NJBiz.
Harris earned her J.D. from Seton Hall University School of Law in 1986 and her B.S. from Bucknell University in 1981.