The position of city attorney is defined geographically rather than functionally. While a bankruptcy lawyer will focus on bankruptcy, a city attorney handles everything for a given city or town. If they work in a small town, they will probably be a private practice attorney and focus on governmental matters. City attorneys handle traffic tickets, civil lawsuits, and act as general counsel, advising the city's departments, ranging from prosecuting misdemeanors and civil claims against the city. They also handle real estate, such as housing code violation and drug abuses. Basically, anytime the city itself is listed as a party in a legal matter, the city attorney will represent it, so such a lawyer must be well versed in a broad range of topics.
Here are a few sample city attorney job descriptions:
The candidate under the direction of the City Council, the City Attorney is the legal adviser and attorney for all officials, officers, and departments of the City and represents the City in all litigation and proceedings, including the prosecution of cases before the Municipal Court. Work involves drafting and reviewing ordinances, resolutions, policies and procedures, and contracts prior to consideration by the City Council to ensure compliance with state, federal, and local laws. Emphasis is placed on municipal law, civil code enforcement, land use, zoning, labor relations, and legislative interpretation. Duties include directing the City Attorney's office, preparing department budget, coordinating with outside counsel regarding litigation on behalf of the City, researching/preparing oral and written legal opinions for City Council, City Manager, Department Heads, staff, committees, commissions and boards, and preparing city ordinances, resolutions, contracts and other legal documents involving the City. Should have 10+ years of pqe. Must have knowledge of labor relations, civil litigation, collective bargaining and municipal, state, federal and constitutional law affecting municipal government. Must be skillful in managing situations requiring diplomacy, fairness, firmness and sound judgement, managing staff by delegating tasks and authority, providing coaching to improve staff performance and understanding/applying City policies and procedures. Doctor of Jurisprudence Degree from an accredited law school and 10 years' experience as a municipal lawyer is required. Must be licensed by the State Bar of Texas and the Southern District of Texas.
The candidate should be able to evaluate controversial situations and present options in a clear and concise fashion. It is essential the new City Attorney holds a solid understanding of a broad array of legal matters related to labor and employee relations including union agreements, grievances, Skelly Hearings, land use and planning, water rights, public finance, personnel, public works, public contracts and bidding, rent stabilization, as well as the drafting of ordinances and resolutions. Requires a Juris Doctorate, active membership in the State Bar of California, and 7 years increasingly responsible experience in the practice of municipal law, including management of staff.
The candidate reports to the City Council and provides legal counsel to the Council, City Manager and staff. A J.D. degree from an accredited law school, extensive professional legal experience, knowledge of municipal law and ability to manage a complex law office are required. Must be a State Bar of Colorado member.
Assistant City Attorney
The candidate should have excellent writing, research, and communication skills. Should be a member of the bar for at least 5 years and have a broad range of experience and knowledge in local government law. Prior experience in the following subject areas is desirable; drafting municipal agreements, sunshine, ethics, and public records laws, procurement, drafting legislative documents, land use and zoning matters, and representing and advising advisory and administrative boards. The position also includes sharing litigation responsibilities and meaningful litigation experience is required.
Assistant City Attorney II
Duties: Serve in litigation and claims, including research, drafting legal documents, attending depositions, hearings and trials. Negotiate/draft/review of contracts, leases, bid documents and bonds, resolutions and ordinances, easements, indemnification agreements, inter local agreements, and other documents. Support and advise City Commission, City Manager, and other special boards. Provide legal services and advice to other departments. Handle grievances, arbitration, appeals on litigation matters and related hearing issues, and prosecutes cases before the Civil Service Board. Support and advise Code Enforcement Board, Board of Adjustment, Planning and Zoning Board and other boards upon request. Provide legal advice when asked. Attend City Commission meetings and workshops. Answer questions from public as they relate to City issues. Other duties as assigned or related work as required.
Qualifications: Graduation from an accredited law school with prior legal experience. Membership in good standing in The Florida Bar. Knowledge of Federal, State and City laws, rules and regulations, particularly in regard to general administrative and regulatory functions of municipal government; knowledge of judicial procedures and the rules of evidence, principles, methods, materials and practices of legal research. Skills to draft legal documents, perform research, and prepare, present and argue cases effectively in court.
Senior Deputy City Attorney
The candidate represents organization, the only city-owned utility in California that operates its own electric, fiber optic, natural gas, water and wastewater utilities. organization is a national leader on public power issues, including sustainability, safety, and reliability. Will be responsible for comprehensive transactional legal support, including federal and state regulatory compliance, rate setting, strategic planning and policy development, renewable and traditional power purchase agreements, public contracting, real estate and risk management. Works closely with the Utilities Director, the Utilities Advisory Commission, and the City Manager and City Council on utilities issues. Should have experience in one or more of the following: electric, gas, water, waste-water, telecommunications. Must be willing to expand their expertise to the full suite of utilities. Municipal law experience desirable.