JOB OPPORTUNITIES IN THE OFFICE OF THE COUNTY COUNSEL
I. The Office of the County Counsel
The County of Santa Clara’s Office of the County Counsel is one of the nation’s preeminent public law offices, serving as legal counsel to the County, its Board of Supervisors and elected officials, every County department and agency, and the County’s various boards and commissions. The Office has widely been recognized for its excellence, including through awards and recognition from the American Bar Association, the Daily Journal, the California Lawyer Magazine, the County Counsels’ Association of California, and other leading legal institutions.
The Office’s work covers a wide array of litigation and policy matters that significantly affect the health, safety, and well-being of the County’s 1.9 million residents. The Office supports the County’s efforts to protect public health and the environment, provide healthcare services, address homelessness, maintain roads and parks, ensure access to a fair criminal justice system, and protect vulnerable populations. The Office handles nearly all of the County’s civil litigation, including employment, personal injury, child welfare, breach of contract, civil rights, taxation, environmental law, and social justice and impact litigation. The Office also provides all of the day-to-day legal services expected from any in-house legal team, including advice and counsel regarding emerging areas of law and transactional matters.
II. The Open Positions
The Office of the County Counsel is seeking talented, highly motivated attorneys to fill open positions on the following teams. Prior public-sector experience is desirable, but not required for any of the open positions. Salaries vary based on experience and qualifications. For attorneys with five or more years of experience, the annual salary range is $212,935 to $265,031.
Civil and Code Enforcement Team
The Civil and Code Enforcement Team partners with other County departments to protect the health, safety, and wellbeing of County residents by enforcing the County Ordinance Code, and state law where a County department serves as the local enforcement agency for the State of California. Attorneys advise County departments regarding potential enforcement actions, coordinate investigations, review administrative complaints, and civilly prosecute responsible parties through trial and appeal. Issues on which the attorneys work include substandard housing, environmental contamination and clean up, and enforcement of County wage and labor laws.
Civil Rights, Tort, and Employment Litigation Team
The Civil Rights, Tort, and Employment Litigation Team defends the County in lawsuits and significant claims filed against the County, its officials, and/or its employees. The Team’s docket includes tort, employment, civil rights, medical malpractice, and dangerous condition of public property actions. Our litigators handle all phases of litigation in state and federal courts, including appellate courts. We are particularly interested in candidates with experience in employment and/or tort litigation.
Employment Benefits and Tax Law
We are seeking an attorney who has expertise in advising public employers on employee benefits and federal tax implications. The County employs over 22,000 staff and manages and implements a variety of employee benefit programs, including group health plans, health care flexible spending accounts, and IRC Section 457 deferred compensation. This attorney would advise the County on the legal questions relating to the design, structure, negotiation, implementation, and administration of a variety of benefit plans, and federal and state compliance requirements, including with regard to tax laws.
Environment and Land Use Team
The Environment and Land Use (ELU) Team provides legal advice to the Board of Supervisors, the Consumer and Environmental Protection Agency (including the Department of Environmental Health and the Agriculture and Environmental Management Department), the Department of Parks and Recreation, the Department of Planning and Development, the Roads and Airports Department, and the Office of Sustainability. ELU attorneys research and analyze novel areas of the law impacting the environment, land use, and sustainability within Santa Clara County, and advise on strategies and implementation measures to respond to the evolving built and natural environment that makes up Santa Clara County. ELU attorneys regularly prepare ordinances and policies, negotiate contracts, comment on legislation, and advise County officials and departments on a multitude of significant issues facing the County. The Team’s practice covers various areas of public law, with attorneys also specializing in land use, sustainability, transportation, and the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).
Finance and Government Operations Team
The Finance and Government Operations (FGO) Team provides legal advice to the Board of Supervisors, the County Executive, the Assessor, the Clerk of the Board, Facilities and Fleet Department, Finance Agency, County Library, Procurement Department, and Registrar of Voters to fulfill the public service mission of the County. FGO attorneys research and analyze many areas of law, craft ordinances and policies, negotiate contracts, comment on legislation, and help solve challenging problems for the County departments and officials they advise. Attorneys on the FGO Team also participate in highly significant litigation related to property taxation and election-related matters, and provide advice on programs of significant importance to the County’s Board of Supervisors and the broader community. The Team’s practice is grounded in various areas of public law, including the Brown Act, the Public Records Act, and the Political Reform Act. Attorneys also practice in specialized areas including public contracting, finance, property taxation, ethics and conflicts of interest. We are particularly interested in candidates with experience in property tax and assessment appeals; public finance; and contracting.
Health and Hospitals Team
The Health and Hospitals Team provides legal advice to the County’s health care delivery system. This team of attorneys provides in-house legal counsel to Santa Clara Valley Medical Center (SCVMC), a 731-bed acute care hospital and Level 1 trauma center and 50-bed psychiatric hospital; O’Connor Hospital, a 358-bed acute care hospital; and Saint Louise Regional Hospital, a 95-bed acute care hospital serving the southern portion of the county; as well as a network of eight health centers and four urgent care clinics. The County runs one of the nation’s largest public health and hospital systems. Attorneys in the Health and Hospitals Team also serve as in-house legal counsel to the Behavioral Health Services Department; Public Health Department; Custody Health Services Department; and Valley Health Plan, the only locally based commercial health plan in Santa Clara County. The attorneys on this team have broad experience providing advice on a wide array of cutting-edge issues to healthcare providers and administrators on matters of importance in the healthcare industry, including Affordable Care Act implementation, regulatory compliance, contracting, quality improvement and risk management, certification and licensing, pharmacy services, policies and procedures, health information privacy and data security, medical ethics, health care finance, and health care IT.
Labor and Employment Team
The Labor and Employment Team advises County departments and managers regarding a wide array of labor and employment matters, including hiring, training, and disciplining employees; reasonably accommodating employees and complying with employee-leave laws and policies; negotiating and finalizing labor contracts; drafting personnel policies; and complying with the County’s Merit System Rules and state and federal labor, employment, and equal opportunity laws. Team attorneys also represent the County and its departments in cases before the County’s Personnel Board, labor arbitrators, the Public Employment Relations Board, the EEOC, the DFEH, and other state and federal administrative agencies. The Team’s goal is to support the County’s commitment to being an employer of excellence that values and supports all of its employees. We are particularly interested in candidates with experience in labor relations.
We are seeking an attorney who has expertise in legislation and legislative advocacy, particularly at the state level, to help coordinate the work of the Office of the County Counsel regarding state legislative activities. The County is regularly and significantly affected by state legislation, including regulations and agency decision-making processes. Among other responsibilities, this attorney would work in cooperation with the County’s Office of Intergovernmental Affairs on legislative activities, including advocacy and the County’s policy positions on pending legislation, as well as coordination of internal analysis of pending and approved legislation. The work of this position is based in Sacramento, but the attorney will also need to be able to travel regularly to the county as needed.
Public Safety and Justice Team
The Public Safety and Justice Team provides legal advice to the departments and agencies that make up the County’s criminal justice and emergency response systems including the Probation Department, Office of Pretrial Services, Office of Reentry Services, Office of Emergency Management, Sheriff’s Office, District Attorney’s Office, Public Defender’s Office, and Department of Correction. Public Safety and Justice attorneys assist these agencies in addressing a wide array of legal issues related to law enforcement, criminal adjudication, juvenile justice, jail operations, probation, reentry services, 911 services, disaster preparedness and response, and related services. In advising the County’s public safety departments and agencies, our attorneys research and analyze many areas of law, craft policies, draft and negotiate contracts, facilitate the release of records to the public, comment on legislation, contribute to significant reform efforts, and assist the departments they advise in addressing significant and challenging issues. We are particularly interested in candidate with experience in jails and criminal justice reform.
Real Property and Public Works Team
The Real Property and Public Works team is responsible for advising County departments and the Board of Supervisors on all aspects of the County’s real estate and public construction activities. Real estate transactions include purchase and sale agreements, commercial leasing, ground leases, easements, and complex public-private partnerships. The team also has significant expertise in complex affordable housing-related real estate finance matters. The team’s public construction practice members are involved from project conception through completion, including design professional procurement, project delivery method selection, prequalification, bid solicitation, bidding disputes, construction contracting, change orders and resolution of construction and claims disputes, and related risk management issues. In addition, the team advises its clients on the unique legal requirements applicable to the County in the real estate and public construction context, including the California Environmental Quality Act.
III. General Qualifications
- Must be a member in good standing with the State Bar of California;
- Must have a demonstrated history of hard work, dedication, and academic excellence;
- Must have the ability to prioritize and manage several simultaneous projects under deadlines;
- As some of the work done in the Office of the County Counsel will undoubtedly be new to any applicant, the ideal candidate will be flexible and show an eagerness to learn;
- Must be self-motivated and willing to take ownership of any matter;
- Must be a team player. Our Office is a collegial and supportive environment in which employees willingly pitch-in to help one another;
- Must have exceptional legal research and writing skills;
- Must have strong communication skills. Our attorneys must be able to explain complex legal issues to judges, arbitrators, elected officials, a diverse range of clients, and, occasionally, members of the public;
- Must be able to establish and maintain excellent working relationships with other County staff; and
- Our attorneys are expected to practice the highest level of ethics and professional responsibility.
IV. Salary and Benefits
Salaries vary based on experience and qualifications. For attorneys with five or more years of experience, the annual salary range is $212,935 to $265,031.
The County offers comprehensive medical, dental, and vision plans for all attorneys and their dependents. Attorneys also receive substantial pension benefits, long-term disability insurance, life insurance, and related coverage.
Other Benefits Include:
- Significant paid vacation and sick time
- 13 paid County holidays
- 457 Deferred Compensation Plan
- Employee Assistance Program
- Dependent Care Assistance Plan
- Employee Wellness Program
- Tuition Reimbursement Program
- Payment of State Bar Dues
Additional information regarding benefits is available here.
V. Diversity and Inclusion
Santa Clara County is one of the most diverse communities in the United States, and its diversity is one of its greatest strengths. Our Office aims to reflect the communities we serve, and we believe that diversity in our Office is crucial to successfully performing the variety of work with which we are entrusted. Being able to draw on different perspectives allows us to be at the forefront of legal issues both locally and nationally. The Office of the County Counsel seeks a diverse applicant pool for every position, welcomes qualified applicants of all backgrounds, and hires based on fair and open competition.
VI. How to Apply
Applicants interested in any of the above positions should send a résumé, list of five references, and brief cover letter to Chief Assistant County Counsel Greta Hansen via [email protected]. Applications will be considered on a rolling basis, and interested applicants are encouraged to apply promptly.
Job Opportunities in the Office of the County Counsel (PDF)