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Tampa adds four new attorneys to build robust legal team

Three are returning to the city after years of private practice.

The city of Tampa’s legal department has added four attorneys over the past four months to its team.

All four join the city from the private sector and represent a collective wealth of expertise in land use and government law.

“City Attorney Gina Grimes has built a world class office full of some of the City of Tampa’s biggest legal names,” Tampa Mayor Jane Castor said. “Each of these individuals bring to the table decades worth of professional experience that will prove invaluable as our city continues to grow and thrive. Their private and public sector careers are unrivaled in any other City Attorney’s office and we’re incredibly fortunate to have them.”

The new additions include Andrea Zelman and Morris Massey as new deputy city attorneys and Cate Wells and Susan JohnsonVelez as senior assistant attorneys. Three have worked for the city before.

Zelman is rejoining the city attorney’s office after 17 years in private practice at Buchanan Ingersoll and Rooney’s Tampa office, which was formerly the law firm of Fowler White Boggs. There she practiced land use and environmental law.

Zelman began her legal career in Atlanta working for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. She served as an assistant city attorney in Tampa from 1996 until 2002.


Massey is also rejoining the office after 14 years in the private sector during which time he worked at Hill Ward Henderson handling land use, zoning, commercial real estate development and real estate transaction law.

Prior to that Massey worked in the Tampa city attorney’s office for eight years. He also previously was a shareholder at Carlton, Fields, P.A. where he worked for 11 years.



Wells is another Tampa re-hire. She previously served as a legal advisor to various city departments and administrative boards before becoming a partner with Shumaker, Loop & Kendrick from 2006 until 2018. After that she worked with Trenam Law.

Wells returns to the office with thirty years of experience in administrative, regulatory and land use with regional and state government.



Johnson-Velez will be new to the city of Tampa, but not to the area in general. She’s practiced land use and zoning and local government law in Tampa for more than 25 years including most recently as a solo practitioner.

Prior to starting her own firm in 2009, Johnson-Velez was a shareholder for the Fowler White Boggs law firm and an assistant county attorney for Hillsborough County.

Janelle Irwin Taylor has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in the Tampa Bay area since 2003. Most recently, Janelle reported for the Tampa Bay Business Journal. She formerly served as the sole staff reporter for WMNF News and previously covered news for and various local neighborhood newsletters. Her work has been featured in the New York Daily News, Free Speech Radio News and Florida Public Radio and she's been interviewed by radio stations across the nation for her coverage of the 2012 Republican National Convention. Janelle is a die-hard news junkie who isn't afraid to take on big names in local politics, including Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, the dirty business of trash and recycling in St. Pete and contentious issues surrounding transit. Her work as a reporter and radio host has earned her two WMNF awards including News Volunteer of the Year and Public Affairs Volunteer of the Year. Janelle is also a devoted wife and mother to three brilliant and beautiful daughters who are a constant source of inspiration and occasional blogging fodder.

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