Legal Counsel

  • San Diego Association of Governments - SANDAG
  • 401 B Street, San Diego, CA, USA
Full Time Legal

Job Description

Overview of the Office of General Counsel

Working in close collaboration with the SANDAG Board of Directors, members of the Executive Office, and employees throughout the organization, the Office of General Counsel has a reputation for providing outstanding legal advice and partnering on projects and initiatives that contribute to the overall success of the agency. SANDAG functions in a complex environment and the Legal team is known for being innovative and proactive in facilitating decisions that support achievement of the agency’s goals.

Legal Counsel Role

As a member of the six person Office of General Counsel, the Legal Counsel position serves as a technical resource to agency executives and project managers and supports various programs, projects, and services by conducting research and preparing memoranda, opinions, and other legal documents, providing legal guidance related to contracting and procurement processes, coordinating the work of outside counsel, and providing legal guidance and opinions to various committees and working groups as requested.

Job Responsibilities

This opportunity is best suited for a legal professional with an interest in furthering their expertise in a regional public agency setting. We anticipate significant career development will occur while working on the types of duties and responsibilities described below and through mentoring and close collaboration with management staff. Examples of primary responsibilities include:

  • Coordinate and assist with the review of a high-volume of Public Records Act requests with other members of the Office of General Counsel; ensure requests are responded to in the time frames required.
  • Analyze, review, and draft contracts, agreements, real property documents, releases, and other legal documents that bind or obligate SANDAG; provide legal opinions and recommendations to ensure SANDAG is properly and effectively represented; review rules, regulations, and policies to ensure legal compliance with applicable state and federal laws.
  • Participate in the review and approval of contracts, agreements, amendments, Memoranda of Understanding, task orders, and leases; ensure contracts and agreements are consistent with federal, state, and/or local funding agency requirements and are written in a manner that protects the interests of SANDAG.
  • Assist in the development and review of language regarding insurance and indemnification in agency contracts; review insurance certificates for adequacy and recommend levels of exposure to insure.
  • Provide legal guidance on public agency procurement processes including advice to project managers regarding pre-bid qualifications and bid protests.
  • Support agency business practices related to the operation of a tolled roadway facility, including privacy requirements and supporting efforts to collect past due amounts owed to the agency.
  • Provide legal guidance on the implementation of an agency-wide document management system.
  • Assist outside counsel in representing SANDAG in legal proceedings before courts, administrative agencies and boards, arbitrators, and other administrative agencies; assist with conducting legal research, preparing pleadings, briefs, motions, court orders, and other court documents; coordinate the agency’s representation by outside counsel in proceedings.
  • Support SANDAG against consultant/contractor protests and claims under the Tort Claims Act.
  • Provide technical legal support to Policy Advisory Committees and Working Groups; assist with the review of meeting agendas and notices; assist with ensuring meeting proceedings, decisions, and recommendations are consistent with and in compliance with public agency meeting requirements and practices such as the Brown Act and Robert’s Rules of Order; present and explain legal issues and opinions in public meetings.
  • Develop a thorough understanding of the goals and priorities of the agency’s departments in order to support their programs and projects; serve as a strategic partner with project managers to address issues.
  • Provide general legal guidance and opinions to agency executives, managers, and project managers on a wide variety of legal issues and requirements pertaining to the agency’s programs, projects, services, and responsibilities.
  • Coordinate activities with those of other divisions and outside agencies and organizations; provide staff assistance to the General Counsel as well as to the Executive Director and Board of Directors as requested; prepare and present staff reports, agendas, and other necessary correspondence.

Experience and Qualifications

Numerous factors contribute to an individual’s ability to be successful in any given role. For this position, we are searching for an articulate, confident legal professional with highly developed communication skills and the ability to explain complex issues in an easily-understandable way. An aptitude for analytical thinking and innovation and a commitment to providing outstanding service while meeting numerous time-sensitive deadlines also are important characteristics.

The minimum education, training, and experience qualifications include a Juris Doctorate from an accredited law school and one to four years of recent professional legal experience as an attorney focusing on municipal or other governmental law. Status as a member in good standing of the State Bar of California is required.

The following information describes the specific types of career experiences that are most relevant to this position.

  • Knowledge of legal principles, practices, and procedures relating to administrative, contract, insurance, real property, transportation, land use, environmental, and construction matters particularly as applied to public agencies; knowledge of specific laws relevant to California local government agencies including the California Government Code, California Public Records Act, and the Political Reform Act.
  • Demonstrated ability to interpret and apply federal, state, and local laws, codes, policies, and regulations pertaining to municipal finance, parliamentary procedures, and other legal proceedings; experience analyzing legal issues and applying relevant legal principles and practices; ability to evaluate alternatives and recommend an effective course of action.
  • Experience collaborating and coordinating with other Legal team members and project managers to support responses to requests made under the Public Records Act or to gather information necessary for legal proceedings.
  • Knowledge of standard public agency methodologies and strategies used in the competitive procurement of products and professional services; demonstrated knowledge and experience with rules, regulations, and laws related to public agency contracts including the California Public Contract Code; familiarity with local and federal public procurement laws.
  • Familiarity with laws relevant to California local government agencies relevant to federal and state regulations related to transportation and transit related issues; familiarity with statutes applicable to the Federal Transit Administration (FTA), Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), and the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) is highly desirable.
  • Knowledge of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and their application to regional projects is highly desirable.
  • Experience working with local elected officials and supporting public boards, committees, and/or working groups by providing legal advice and ensuring compliance with the Robert’s Rules of Order and the Brown Act is desirable; knowledge of the California Tort Claims Act.
  • Experience preparing a variety of legal documents, inter-agency agreements, Memorandums of Understanding, and correspondence; ability to prepare and present legal information in a clear and concise manner, both orally and in writing; ability to make effective legal arguments.
  • Ability to exercise good judgment and make sound decisions on legal casework; ability to work effectively with outside counsel and employees in a sensitive and diplomatic manner.
  • Familiarity with litigation and other legal proceedings and the ability to review and coordinate with outside counsel on legal matters.
  • Familiarity with the use of trademarks, intellectual property, and copyrights.
  • The selected candidate can anticipate a driving record check upon hire, and approximately annually thereafter. The results of the check may determine whether the selected candidate will be permitted to drive for SANDAG business.

Salary and Benefits

SANDAG rewards the efforts of its employees with a comprehensive compensation package. Competitive salaries are supplemented with a flexible and generous offering of health, financial security, and time-off benefits to meet the work and life needs of employees and their families.

The Legal Counsel position will be filled at the I, II, or Associate level depending on the qualifications and experience of the selected candidate. Positions at the Counsel I and II level are considered entry-level with job duties primarily related to learning and supporting program activities. At the Associate level, employees are expected to independently coordinate more complex functions. The annual salary ranges are: Counsel I - $61,928 to $99,084 per year; Counsel II - $68,275 to $109,241 per year; Associate Counsel - $75,274 to $120,438 per year.

Our benefits include traditional health, dental, and vision insurance as well as employee assistance, wellness, and work/life balance programs. To support the need to rest and rejuvenate, employees are provided with a bank of paid time off in addition to paid holidays. Contributions to financial security are provided through a pension plan and deferred compensation program.

How to Apply

We encourage all interested candidates to apply for this position by completing a SANDAG Employment Application form and providing responses to the supplemental questions. Resumes, cover letters, and work samples may be submitted in addition to the Employment Application but are not a substitute for this document.

The Employment Application can be downloaded in PDF format from the SANDAG website. Alternatively, a copy can be requested by calling (619) 699-1900 or emailing Completed applications and related materials can be submitted via email, fax, regular mail, courier, or delivered by hand. See our Careers / How to Apply webpage for additional information.

This position will remain open until filled. The first review of applications will begin on Monday, July 9, 2018.

In compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), SANDAG will accommodate persons who require assistance in order to apply for a position at SANDAG. Applicants requiring an accommodation due to a disability during any stage of the recruitment and selection process, including requesting this document and related application materials in an alternative format, should make their needs known by contacting Human Resources at (619) 699-1900, (619) 699-1904 (TTY), fax (619) 699-6905, or

Application Supplement

To help us further evaluate the skills and experience of individuals interested in this position, candidates are asked to respond to the Supplemental Question below. The information can be up to 500 words and should be submitted with the Employment Application. This is considered a required component of the application; applications received without a response will be screened out of the selection process.

Supplemental Question

Describe an example of how you have helped a client achieve a project objective in the face of challenging circumstances.

Candidate Selection and Notification

Following the first review date listed above, candidates will receive written confirmation that their application has been received. The hiring manager will begin reviewing and evaluating applications within a few days of the first review date. Based on this evaluation, the best qualified candidates will be invited to continue in the selection process. All candidates will receive written notification as to the final outcome of their application.

Further Information

The SANDAG website contains a wealth of information about our various project and program areas. The Careers section of the site lists all of our current Job Openings as well as information on how to apply for positions and Frequently Asked Questions about our recruitment process.

In compliance with the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986, applicants hired by SANDAG must show acceptable proof of identity and evidence of authorization to work in the United States.

SANDAG is an Equal Opportunity Employer.

Education Requirements