Longtime assistant attorney will take over from Mikaela McDermott, who is stepping down after exemplary service
Assistant City Attorney Eric Jaikes will assume the leadership role in the City Legal Office beginning Sunday, February 6, when City Attorney Mikaela McDermott steps down after more than a decade of exemplary service.
Jaikes has practiced municipal law for the city as an assistant city attorney since May 2001, serving former mayors Fred Kalisz, Jr. and Scott Lang, in addition to Mayor Jon Mitchell.
“It has been a pleasure for me to provide legal advice and represent three different jurisdictions as an assistant city attorney,” Jaikes said. “I look forward to the opportunity to continue to serve New Bedford in my new role.”
Jaikes’ tenure has included work on the recent successful litigation against waste hauler ABC Disposal, the operation of the New Bedford Regional Airport, and dredging projects in the Port of New Bedford. He has served on boards and committees of the airport and several other City entities.
“Eric has long played a major role on the City’s legal team. His breadth of knowledge and legal skills will make him ready to go on day one,” said Mayor Mitchell.
McDermott began his municipal service in 2010, serving under former Mayor Scott Lang. She then worked as Deputy Chief of Staff under Mayor Mitchell, who appointed her City Solicitor in January 2014. A graduate of Harvard College and the University of Virginia School of Law, McDermott practiced in large law firms in Washington, DC and New York. City before coming to New Bedford to be closer to his family.
The many high-profile cases she oversaw included the 2015 $8.5 million settlement — the largest settlement in city history — from AVX Corp. and Cornell-Dubilier Electronics, after litigation involving chemical contamination at the Parker Street waste site, which included Keith Middle School and New Bedford High School.
She also oversaw the ABC Disposal litigation and a variety of new legal issues arising from the 2019 ransomware attack and the current COVID-19 pandemic.
“I am extremely grateful to Mayor Mitchell for the opportunity to serve New Bedford as the city’s attorney for the past eight years, and to Mayor Lang for hiring me for the first time,” said McDermott. “I am also deeply grateful to my colleagues in the City Attorney’s Office and throughout the city, who work tirelessly for the people of New Bedford. I know Eric Jaikes will make an outstanding municipal lawyer, and I am committed to helping him in any way I can during this transition.
“The city was very fortunate to have Mikaela McDermott as Chief Legal Counsel,” said Mayor Mitchell. “His ability to analyze rigorously, his unfailing professionalism, his work ethic and his commitment to service have enabled our City to resolve the thorniest of legal challenges. It saved taxpayers countless expenses and improved the administration’s ability to meet the needs of New Bedford residents.