Volunteer Attorney Positions 2010-2011

The Office of County Counsel for the County of Santa Clara is now hiring one or more Volunteer Attorneys who are committed to public service and who are able to volunteer for at least three months and ideally for one year.

The Nature of the Work:

Volunteer Attorneys will work primarily in one of the practice-areas described below, with the opportunity for assignments in other departments according to their interests and the Office’s needs. Volunteer Attorneys will be supervised directly by a Lead Deputy County Counsel or an Assistant County Counsel, and special attention will be paid to fostering their professional development and incorporating them into the office both professionally and socially. The varied nature of our work will provide Volunteer Attorneys with an excellent opportunity to develop advocacy skills, to explore new areas of interest, and to serve the public interest.

Currently, the County Counsel’s Office seeks Volunteer Attorneys to work in the following sections:

Impact Litigation and Social Justice Section attorneys conduct affirmative litigation on behalf of the County, draft local ordinances, advocate for state legislation on issues of interest to the County, and develop novel policies and programs to advance the County’s goal of securing social and economic justice for all its residents. Volunteer Attorneys will handle ongoing litigation, advise the Board of Supervisors regarding potential new litigation, and work collaboratively with other sections and County departments to design new initiatives that use the power of local government to drive social change.

General Government Section attorneys do transactional work on behalf of the Board of Supervisors and County Executive, as well as core agencies, such as Finance, Planning and Development, Environmental Health, Registrar of Voters, Procurement, Parks, Sheriff, District Attorney and Department of Correction. Volunteer Attorneys will research constitutional and other legal issues ranging from climate change to real estate to public works to purchasing, analyze and draft local and state legislation, and provide advice to the Board of Supervisors.

The Child Dependency Unit handles all court proceedings involving allegations of abuse or neglect in a child's home, provides advice regarding children's educational rights, and reviews the policies and procedures that guide County social workers. Volunteer Attorneys may represent the County in mediations, serve as second chair in long-cause court proceedings, conduct legal research, and analyze new policies.

Probate Section attorneys advise the Social Services Agency, including Aging and Adult Services, and represent the Public Administrator/Guardian in all probate and mental health conservatorships and decedent estates. Volunteer Attorneys may work on a new elder financial abuse initiative in the Section and may have the opportunity to represent the Public Guardian in a jury trial.

Litigation Section attorneys represent the County whenever suits or claims may affect the County's interests. Civil rights proceedings, challenges to local laws, and tort suits constitute the bulk of our cases. Volunteer Attorneys may handle smaller cases independently, take and defend depositions, draft and argue discovery motions, and, in some circumstances, draft and argue substantive motions and appeals.

Health and Hospital Section attorneys work on legal issues arising out of the operation of the County's hospital and other departments in the County healthcare system. Subject areas include medical records and confidentiality, consent to treatment, public and mental health, health care for minors, managed care, emergency medical services, and clinical research. Volunteer attorneys will do legal research, provide advice on large and small projects, and develop specialized expertise in health law.

Independent Defense Office attorneys represent indigent defendants in criminal cases when both the public defender and the alternate public defender are conflicted out and in cases in which parents are being prosecuted for failure to pay child support.

Labor and Employment Section attorneys provide legal services on personnel and labor relations matters. Volunteer Attorneys may conduct full administrative hearings before the Personnel Board, assist with ongoing and new litigation and labor arbitrations, advise County departments on various personnel matters including responding to claims of discrimination and sexual harassment, and help to create a new program designed to reduce the effects of unconscious bias in employment settings.


We are accepting applications for full-time Volunteer Attorneys who are available to begin work any time after February 2010. Preference will be given to applicants who can make a one-year commitment to the Office, but applicants who can commit to shorter periods of at least three months will also be considered. The positions will be open until filled.

Volunteer Status:

The County of Santa Clara will not provide salary or benefits but will provide malpractice insurance. Volunteer Attorneys must provide proof of health insurance and current bar membership. Volunteers waiting for bar results may work in the interim as Volunteer Law Clerks.

To Apply:

Applicants should send a cover letter, resume, writing sample and list of references to [email protected]. Applicants should specify their area(s) of interest and should describe any relevant experience.

For a current listing of County employment opportunities, job descriptions, and employment applications, click on the link below. The County of Santa Clara is an Equal Opportunity Employer.

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