What Is the Next Step for Columbus Mayor Michael B. Coleman?
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Michael B.Coleman, a Democrat, has served as mayor of Columbus for sixteen years. Photo courtesy of Dispatch.

Summary: Columbus Mayor Michael B. Coleman is heading for law firm Ice Miller.

What’s the next step after being the most popular mayor of a city? For Mayor Michael B. Coleman of Columbus it means returning to a law firm.


Coleman served as mayor for a whopping sixteen years! He’ll leave office on December 31 as the city’s longest serving mayor, and he’ll head for the law firm, Ice Miller, as director of business and government strategies. In his new role, he will be a senior attorney who will offer legal advice to clients regarding public and private transactions. He will not be allowed to work with the city of Columbus for one year because of his political role.

For those in Columbus, they will always remember Coleman as a man with “swagger.” According to The Columbus Dispatch the beloved politician frequently used that word to promote the city. Every year he ran, he used his confidence to win with crushing results, and under his leadership, the city has experienced rapid growth. When he took office, the city had 715,000 citizens. Now the city has 836,000 residents and a larger operating budget.

“Our city now has swagger. I believe that the city of Columbus now believes in itself and that we can compete with any community in the nation because we have that confidence,” Coleman said.

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Coleman’s infectious swagger caught the eye of Ice Miller, a firm with 320 lawyers in offices in New York, Washington D.C., and the Midwest.

Richard A. Barnhart, a partner at Ice Miller, said other cities want to copy Coleman’s leadership, which is why the firm wanted him. Under Coleman’s leadership, Columbus revamped its downtown, implemented curbside recycling, and developed anti-crime initiatives.

“Mayors from around the country want to talk to Mike and ask him things like how did you get the Arena District built,” Barnhart said to The Columbus Dispatch. “It’s astonishing what he’s accomplished in 16 years and we expect Mike is going to be able to help other governments.

Coleman’s political career was not overall perfect, however. In 2005, he unsuccessfully ran for governor, and in June of this year, he came under federal investigation because of the city’s relationship with red light camera vendor Redflex. Previously, Redflex officials pled guilty to federal bribery that they had donated to the campaigns of Coleman in order to gain a business advantage. The case is still under investigation.

Yet, despite Coleman’s lows, it is hard to not be in awe of what he’s accomplished.

Before Coleman became Columbus’ first African-American mayor, he was a partner at Schottenstein Zox and Dunn, which later merged with Ice Miller. In essence, Coleman’s career has come full circle.



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