The City Attorney is appointed by and serves at the will of the City Council. The incumbent manages a law office of over 40 attorneys and 30 legal support professionals, equivalent to a mid-sized Portland law firm. The City Attorney manages, directs and integrates a wide range of complex, sensitive legal services, often involving issues of significant visibility and substantial consequence for the City. The City Attorney is responsible both for providing legal advice and advocacy on highly complex and sensitive issues in diverse areas of law to the Mayor, City Council, bureau managers, other City employees, boards and commissions and for ensuring that City officials and employees comply with the legal and ethical standards set forth in statue and code. The incumbent directs litigation in which the City is involved as plaintiff, defendant or other interested party and approves legally binding documents related to City interactions with private businesses, individuals and with other governments.
Responsibilities of the City Attorney are broad in scope, require a high degree of seasoned legal and administrative discretion and are evaluated in terms of overall effectiveness. The City’s governmental structure and the role of the City Attorney require sophisticated interpersonal skills and seasoned political and legal acumen to ensure sensitivity to complex political realities while remaining strictly politically neutral. Because of the high visibility of many cases, the City Attorney must be skillful in dealing with the media while protecting attorney-client privilege. The City Attorney must also be culturally competent, committed to anti-racism and equity and familiar with issues of systemic and institutional racism.
A competitive candidate for the position of City Attorney will possess the qualifications/competencies identified in the Position Description above and the knowledge, skills and abilities in this Ideal Candidate Profile. Please be sure to provide sufficient information in your résumé and cover letter to display to our subject matter experts the extent of your qualifications.
In addition, candidates must:
Be a member in good standing of the Oregon State Bar (or eligible for admission) and be admitted to practice (or eligible for admission to practice) before Oregon state and federal courts.
Have at least 10 years of progressively responsible legal practice, with a thorough knowledge of Oregon constitutional and municipal law. Experience with civil litigation, civil rights, public contracting, environmental law, land use law, employment and labor law and/or utilities law a plus.
Have demonstrated ability to handle a variety of highly complex legal matters.
Have proven ability managing budgets and personnel, including professional and administrative employees.
Have demonstrated cultural competence, knowledge of anti-racist principles and a commitment to racial justice reform.
About Office of City Attorney, Portland, Oregon
The Office of City Attorney provides legal services to the Portland City Council, City bureaus, boards, commissions, agencies, and individual City employees when required by the Oregon Tort Claims Act. Under the terms of the City Charter, the City Attorney is appointed by and serves at the pleasure of the City Council, and is the only City officer appointed by the full Council. The City Attorney's deputies are appointed by and serve at the pleasure of the City Attorney or as delegated to the Chief Deputy City Attorneys. Deputy City Attorneys are exempt from civil service.
The City Attorney's client is the City of Portland. Deputies are assigned by the City Attorney to provide legal services to various City bureaus and operations. The City Attorney and staff have an attorney-client relationship with the City.
The office's legal services include representing the City in a variety of areas including tort lawsuits, workers' compensation actions, personnel actions, and discrimination lawsuits, other labor matters, land use and planning appeals, public records matters, code enforcement, constitutional challenges, license fees, foreclosure and lien actions, nuisance abatement, small... claims, interpleaders and civil forfeitures, real property matters, construction and contractor disputes, collections, housing issues, pension and benefit matters, environmental issues, water, and natural resources law, toxic waste issues, park operations, business regulation, and fiscal and taxation matters.