Navjeet Bal will join law firm Nixon Peabody LLP as counsel on Oct. 3, but the outgoing Massachusetts revenue commissioner is no stranger to private practice, having worked in the public finance group of Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo PC for 17 years.
“It’s a different set of challenges, but I’m very comfortable and familiar with the environment,” Bal, 47, said in an interview.
After Gov. Deval Patrick appointed her commissioner in 2008, she was responsible for overseeing the Department of Revenue’s 2,200 employees statewide who work in its tax administration, child support enforcement, and municipal finance divisions.
During her tenure there, the agency implemented the first health insurance mandate law in the United States and approved regulations to implement the combined reporting corporate tax law.
Nixon Peabody, which is building out in Boston and the Northeast, considers the hiring of Bal as a major coup.
“This is a huge pickup for the Boston office,” said Michael Vaccari, a partner and leader of Nixon’s public finance practice. “I met Navjeet while working on a Massachusetts School Building Authority transaction. From that time on I’ve identified her as a lawyer of high energy and impeccable credentials.”
Bal, working out of Boston, will join a team of 35 Nixon Peabody lawyers around the country covering national public finance.
She will work closely with partner Peter Johnson and also with the firm’s infrastructure finance team, among other duties.
Nixon Peabody has 700 lawyers overall, with about 140 based in Boston.
After graduating from Williams College in 1984, Bal, born in Nakuru, Kenya, caught the law bug when she volunteered for a legal services hotline while attending Northeastern University School of Law.
“I was drawn to public finance,” she said.
One of Bal’s favorite deals involved working as bond counsel when Massachusetts issued fiscal recovery bonds during the recession of the early 1990s. “It was a very complicated deal and a lot of fun to work on as a young attorney,” she said.
She also enjoyed working as an underwriter’s counsel when her alma mater, Williams, issued bonds to pay for a new science center.
Bal once served on a statewide commission under retired Chief Justice Herbert Wilkins that restructured the delivery of legal services in Massachusetts.
Earlier this year she received a Bicentennial Medal award from Williams College for her advocacy on behalf of domestic violence victims and legal services for low-income residents.
Amy Pitter, meanwhile, will succeed Bal at the State House, according to an announcement by Secretary of Administration and Finance Jay Gonzalez.
A lawyer and accountant, Pitter worked for the Revenue Department from 1991 to 2000 as deputy commissioner of both taxpayer services and child-support enforcement.
Pitter, a native New Yorker who has lived in the Boston area since 1975, returns to public service after about 10 years at Montreal information technology company CGI Group Inc.