Robert Rivard

City Attorney Michael Bernard has decided to leave his position with the City of San Antonio after eight years to become a partner in the San Antonio office of Bracewell & Giuliani.

The law firm has its roots in Houston, but has grown to become national in scope, with offices in New York, Washington, on the West Coast, with an international presence in Europe and the Middle East. The firm’s Texas presence includes a 12-attorney office in San Antonio.

“It wasn’t an easy decision, but the time is right,” Bernard said, adding that he had been asked by Major Julián Castro and City Manager Sheryl Sculley to stay on until the end of the year while his replacement is recruited.

“I don’t think it will take them that long to find a strong replacement,” Bernard said, citing the positive buzz about San Antonio and local government

San Antonio City Attorney Michael D. Bernard
San Antonio City Attorney Michael D. Bernard

Bernard, in effect, has served as the head of one of the city’s largest law firms while at City Hall, overseeing nearly 60 lawyers and 40 support staff. Before 2005, he served as the First Assistant District Attorney for Bexar County, the deputy to the elected District Attorney, overseeing an office of 160 lawyers. He also had his own private practice in San Antonio for more than 10 years after graduating from St. Mary’s University Law School and earning his undergraduate degree from UTSA.

At the time, his move from the Bexar County Courthouse to the City of San Antonio was seen as one of the biggest moves by Mayor Phil Hardberger and newly hired City Manager Sheryl Sculley in shaking up the status quo and assembling a new team at City Hall.

San Antonio City Manager Sheryl Sculley
San Antonio City Manager Sheryl Sculley

“Michael has been an outstanding city attorney, and his legal expertise and political counsel will be greatly missed,” Sculley said. “I’ve worked with many city attorneys over the years and Michael Bernard is by far the best.”

Bernard said he was fortunate to hold the job during “the golden era in the city of San Antonio.”

“I’ve served as City Attorney during a time of extraordinary transition for both the city of San Antonio and city government,” Bernard said. “History will show that I’ve worked for two of the best mayors ever elected here and the city manager who happens to be the very best in the country.”

Bernard said his private practice work would include litigation, public law and finance, and corporate work. Like many a parent in public service who leave for a more lucrative private sector opportunity, Bernard said the cost of college tuition was a major family consideration in the timing of his decision.

According to the City Charter, the city manager solicits applications, reviews candidates and makes a recommendation to City Council for confirmation.

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Robert Rivard

Robert Rivard is editor of the San Antonio Report.