Attorney Michael Lawson has been appointed as the new president of the Los Angeles Board of Airport Commissioners, replacing Alan Rothenberg, who resigned in early December.

Lawson, whose term ends June 30, was elected by the board to the post Monday, Jan. 10.

Lawson has been a member of the Airport Commission for more than five years and heads the Employee Benefits Group at the Los Angeles office of Skadden Arps LLP, where he works on all facets of employee compensation issues.

He has experience as an investment advisor and has been instrumental in propelling the modernization of Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), said a spokesperson at Los Angeles World Airports, the city agency that operates LAX.

“I’m very humbled, but I’m not happy with the way it happened because Alan Rothenberg, who so ably led this commission, found it necessary to step down,” Lawson said of his election.

Rothenberg resigned last month due to his business ties to a restaurant chain, California Pizza Kitchen, which is involved in bids for concession contracts at LAX. He serves on the CPK board and owns approximately $1 million of the company’s stock.

Rothenberg had requested that the city attorney review the matter, and it was concluded by that office that a conflict of interest did exist because of his ties to the company.

In a letter to Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Rothenberg had said that the Bradley West Terminal construction and upgrading of concession contracts would be delayed because of his business ties, and since that project is projected to be completed in December 2012, he was submitting his resignation to “allow the awarding of concession contracts to proceed in as orderly and expeditious a process as possible.”

Rothenberg’s vacancy is expected to be filled by the mayor in the near future.

“For more than five years, Michael Lawson has given the Board of Airport Commissioners his thoughtful, imaginative, and energetic leadership,” said Gina Marie Lindsey, the executive director of Los Angeles World Airports. “His election to president puts those qualities at the helm of an extraordinary board. I am grateful for the board’s decision and Michael Lawson’s willingness to say ‘yes.’”

The other current airport commissioners are vice president Valeria Velasco, Joseph A. Aredas, Boyd Hight, Fernando Gil-Torres and Walter Zifkin. Velasco had served as interim president until the election of Lawson.

“After several years of working with Mike Lawson as a BOAC member I find him to be reasonable and personable. I’m not sure ‘congratulations’ is in order, but I certainly thank him for serving,” said Denny Schneider, president of the Alliance for a Regional Solution to Airport Congestion (ARSAC).

“There is much work yet to be done. I look forward to working with him as the new BOAC president as we push to fix LAX without further impact on the local area, and to develop a network of airports that will protect our future regional aviation needs.”