Josh Zakim, an alumnus of Northeastern’s School of Law and the son of a well-​​known reli­gious and civil rights leader, has been elected to rep­re­sent Dis­trict 8 in the Boston City Council.

Zakim, who grad­u­ated from the law school in 2009, defeated Michael Nichols in the Nov. 5 city elec­tion. Zakim received about 52 per­cent of the vote to Nichols’ 47 per­cent. Dis­trict 8 com­prises Back Bay, Beacon Hill, Fenway-​​Kenmore, Mis­sion Hill, and the West End.

This is a new time in the city,” Zakim said in a phone inter­view last Thursday. “With a new mayor for the first time in 20 years, this is a great oppor­tu­nity to help shape the future of Boston.”

Zakim will offi­cially start his new job in Jan­uary. His list of to-​​dos includes making rent in his dis­trict more afford­able and finding a bal­ance between devel­op­ment and neigh­bor­hood needs.

Rising rent costs is an issue across the city, but in areas like Mis­sion Hill and Fenway it’s forcing people and fam­i­lies to move away,” he said. “I want to help make Boston a city that pro­vides oppor­tu­ni­ties and is acces­sible to everyone.”

Although this is Zakim’s first foray into pol­i­tics, public ser­vice runs in his family. His father, Leonard Zakim, was a reli­gious and civil rights leader who served as the director of the New Eng­land region of the Anti-​​Defamation League. The iconic Zakim Bridge is named for Leonard, who died of bone marrow cancer in 1999.

Zakim said he came to North­eastern in part because of the co-​​op pro­gram, the cor­ner­stone of the university’s expe­ri­en­tial learning model. He was also impressed with the law school’s focus on public interest.

North­eastern con­tinues to be a leading law school,” Zakim noted. “And whether grad­u­ates go into the pri­vate or public sector, they are gen­er­ally going into their legal career to do good.”

After grad­u­ating law school, Zakim worked for the Greater Boston Legal Ser­vices and rep­re­sented fam­i­lies that were at risk of losing their homes to fore­clo­sure. He also worked in the public finance group at Mintz Levin, a Boston-​​based law firm.

Public ser­vice and social eco­nomic jus­tice have always been impor­tant to me,” Zakim explained. “The dis­trict has had such able rep­re­sen­ta­tion by Michael Ross, and I thought it was impor­tant we have someone at City Hall with sim­ilar values.”

Ross, who was elected to the city council in 2000, was one of four city coun­cilors to give up their seats this year in order to run for mayor. This elec­tion marked the first in two decades that Mayor Thomas M. Menino’s name was not on the ballot.