Columbus City Attorney Zach Klein

Zach Klein
Columbus City Attorney
77 North Front Street
Columbus, Ohio 43215
[email protected]

About City Attorney Zach Klein

Zach Klein was sworn in as Columbus City Attorney on January 1, 2018 after previously serving as a member of Columbus City Council since January 2011, including two years as Council President from 2016-2017.

As prescribed by the Columbus City Charter, the City Attorney is “the legal adviser of and attorney and counsel for the city, and for all officers and departments thereof in matters relating to their official duties.”

Every day, the City Attorney’s office provides an array of legal services: defending the city against lawsuits; assuring that newly enacted legislation conforms with existing city code; approving contracts as to form and correctness; evaluating whether misdemeanor criminal charges should be filed in Franklin County Municipal Court; prosecuting traffic and criminal cases; providing oral and written legal opinions; serving as the legal advisor to the Columbus Divisions of Police and Fire; and eliminating public nuisances that persist in Columbus neighborhoods.

Zach began his career in public service as a law clerk for the Ohio Third District Court of Appeals and then transitioned to clerk for Judges Terrence Kemp and John Holschuh at the United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio. He then served in the White House as Deputy Director of Management and Administration in the Office of Vice President Joe Biden. Zach also served as an assistant Ohio Attorney General, the Deputy Chief of Legal Services in the Ohio Attorney General’s office and worked as a Special Assistant United States Attorney. Additionally, he has spent time in private practice at the law firm Jones Day and the Mid-Ohio Food Bank.

While serving as Council President, Zach focused on and appropriated money for increasing access to substance abuse and treatment centers. After seeing repeated and constant criminal activity occurring in some hotels and motels, Zach convened community leaders, business leaders and police to establish licensing requirements and regulations to clean up and shut down problem hotels and motels that were plaguing Columbus neighborhoods. After a series of council hearings on human trafficking, he also introduced amendments to the city’s massage parlor code to prevent ownership from those with criminal records.

To increase transparency for both residents and law enforcement, he also worked to create and authorize the city’s body worn camera program for the Division of Police.

Believing that Columbus is strengthened by its diversity and spirit of inclusion, Zach introduced legislation that created the city’s domestic partnership registry, authored legislation that banned conversion therapy practices for minors, and worked to ensure all city residents are treated fairly and consistently regardless of age, disability, familial status and military status, sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity or expression.

Job growth and economic development were always a priority for Zach. During his tenure on City Council, Columbus added over 15,000 new jobs and helped retain close to 40,000. Also, knowing that small businesses are the essential backbone of a thriving local economy, Zach advocated for small business support and other measures that encouraged entrepreneurship and growth in the city.

As City Attorney, Zach is particularly focused on how the law can be applied at the municipal level to help people and communities—whether that is fairly prosecuting misdemeanor crimes, using civil litigation to shut down nuisance properties and magnets of crime, protecting civil rights, promoting social justice reform, or encouraging private sector investment to turn neighborhood blights into neighborhood assets.

Zach also is committed to finding new bold and creative ways to use the full breadth of the City Attorney’s office to better serve all Columbus residents.

One of his first moves was creating the City Solicitor General’s office, a position designed to promote important public policy changes. He also established a Proactive Litigation Team for the City Attorney’s office to actively seek opportunities to protect the rights of Columbus residents. Zach is also helping lead a statewide, bipartisan effort to change criminal justice policy and reform Ohio’s drug sentencing laws to focus on rehabilitation and treatment instead of incarceration, appropriately distinguishing between those who are fighting drug addiction and the traffickers who prey on them.

In 2018, Zach spearheaded the city’s efforts to implement common-sense and effective gun laws, which include closing the gap between existing federal and state firearms law to get guns out of the hands of criminals who have violent and dangerous backgrounds, as well as banning weapon accessories like bump stocks. He also pushed to prohibit imitation weapons from being on the streets and to expand the nuisance code to include properties where felony violent crimes occur.

Under his leadership, Zach’s office developed an innovative legal strategy to protect the investment of public tax dollars by attempting to save the Columbus Crew Soccer Club. He also has filed, joined, or supported several lawsuits aimed at protecting workers’ rights, civil rights and safeguarding taxpayer dollars.

Zach continues to aggressively crack down on drug trafficking hubs operating in our neighborhoods, combat human trafficking in city hotels and massage parlors, and shut down nuisance and criminal business operations.

Zach grew up in Belpre, Ohio along the Ohio River and is a proud graduate of Ohio State University and Capital University Law School. He also is a Division I NCAA women’s basketball referee. He and his family live in Clintonville.