CityLaw Profile: Thomas McMahon of TLM Associates, LLC

Thomas McMahon grew up in Staten Island, attended St. Joseph Hill Academy and Monsignor Farrell High School, and graduated from SUNY New Paltz. McMahon knew from a young age that he wanted to have a career in government and public service, and he felt that the best path forward included a law degree.

In 1980 McMahon entered New York Law School and focused on international law with Professor Myers McDougal, a nationally known international law professor. McMahon appreciated Prof. McDougal’s methodical approach to teaching which focused on understanding the process of decision making in order to understand how best to address and resolve problems. McMahon would apply this approach throughout his career.

By the time McMahon graduated New York Law School in 1983 he had already had substantial governmental experience. While attending SUNY New Paltz McMahon had worked for Assemblyman Michael Pesce in Albany, and while at law school he had worked for Assemblywoman Eileen Dugan. On graduation McMahon took a position as Assistant Counsel to the Assembly Codes Committee. In 1985 McMahon moved to Mayor Edward I. Koch’s legislative office where he managed and advanced the City’s legislative agenda. The work required coordination and resolving differences between the Mayor’s office, elected officials, and City agencies. Some of the issues McMahon worked on at the Mayor’s office are still current, including congestion pricing.

In 1989 McMahon moved to the City Council’s Finance Division, where he worked for the next ten years, with the last six years serving as Director of the Finance Division. The City in the 1990’s was challenged by a financial downturn and a cultural crisis. Major issues included record high crime rates, a significant revenue shortfall, and the implementation of a new City charter that had reorganized City government in the aftermath of the Supreme Court’s decision declaring the Board of Estimate unconstitutional. The new charter had become effective on January 1, 1990 and reallocated major powers between the City Council and the Mayor.  Contentious issues involving budget, executive authority, and land use finally had to be decided by the courts.

In 1999, McMahon moved to the New York City Partnership where for three years he headed up the federal, State and local government relations team. In 2002, McMahon returned to the City Council as General Counsel.

In 2006 McMahon left government and established TLM Associates, LLC, a governmental affairs consulting and lobbying firm with clients who have business with the City and the State. His firm focuses on a few key areas including affordable housing and energy.

McMahon works with New York City developers participating in the City’s ambitious affordable housing programs. Developers must still overcome many challenges even after winning a project. Issues range from construction and regulatory compliance, to working with City agencies like Buildings and the Fire Department to ensure buildings are up to code and utilities are properly installed.

Lobbying in New York City, in McMahon’s experience, is unlike lobbying in Washington, D.C. where partisan agendas often drive the work of government. Lobbying in New York City is about working with individual clients to secure the attention of agencies and administrators and then to persuade the agency to make a decision.

A challenge facing anyone doing business in New York City is the limited time elected officials and agency decision makers can give to an issue. McMahon’s work often entails simply getting his clients heard by the appropriate City official.

McMahon’s experience of working at the Mayor’s office and the Council gave him a broad understanding of the municipal decision making process. An advocate for clients must know both the decision making process as well as the governmental priorities which determine how decision makers approach issues. For McMahon, having that knowledge allows him to assist clients in getting a fair resolution of their issues.

McMahon believes that everyone should become involved in their neighborhood and be knowledgeable on local issues. McMahon and his family live that value. McMahon’s wife, Linda Gibbs, was a deputy mayor under Michael Bloomberg. McMahon’s brother, Michael E. McMahon (NYLS ’86), is the District Attorney of Staten Island and a former City Council Member, and McMahon’s sister-in-law, Judith McMahon (NYLS ‘86), is a Supreme Court Justice in Staten Island.   His daughter Ryann is pursuing a Masters in Urban Design at Carnegie Mellon after working two years at the New York City Department of City Planning; and his son Leo is a student teaching at Bedford Academy in Brooklyn while attending Hunter College.



One thought on “CityLaw Profile: Thomas McMahon of TLM Associates, LLC

  1. What recourse (nothing) do I have (absolutely nothing), against a criminal slumlord, who sends scammers to my walkup slum, to evict me? For what it is worth (again, absolutely nothing), I lived in the Willowbrook area.

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