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City Attorney

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Reviewed Date: June 23, 2017

Original Author: 
Date of Material: 
Sep 24, 2002

City attorney

City Attorney

Job description for the position of City Attorney.

Knowledgebase-City AttorneyJOB TITLE: City Attorney


Responsible for advising City authorities and officers in all legal matters pertaining to the business of the City and approving the form of all City ordinances. Represents the City in all actions brought by or against the City or against City officials in their official capacity. Serves as the department head for the Municipal Court and as the City's representative to the Washington Cities Insurance Authority. Responsible for planning, organizing, directing, and controlling all activities of the Legal Department. Assures the efficient and economical use of the resources of the department, including budgeted funds, grant monies, personnel, facilities, and time, to accomplish short-term and long-range objectives.


Implements policies and programs with activities reviewed for adequacy of professional judgment, compliance with policies, and achievement of results consistent with objectives.
Operates with only nominal direction and appreciable latitude for independent action and decisions commensurate with demonstrated ability, within broad policy guidelines, department objectives, and applicable laws, rules, and ordinances.
Errors in judgment could have substantial impact on public acceptance of programs and efficient operation of other City departments, and could result in legal and fiscal liability for the City.


Work is performed primarily in office settings, courtrooms, and community meeting rooms. Some work involves visits to various City sites and exposure to whatever risks are present at those sites.


Monitor and control performance of the department in conformance with objectives, plans, schedules, and budgets.
Monitor variances and implement necessary corrective actions.
Prepare all ordinances and resolutions for the City at the direction of the Mayor and City Council.
May on occasion propose ordinances.
Represent as legal counsel the City in all actions brought by or against the City or against City officials for actions performed in their official capacity and including prosecution of City Code violations in Municipal Court.
Provide legal advice to City departments and individuals, including Police Department.
Represent the City in appeals in Superior Court and State and Federal appellate courts.
Represent the City's interests in administrative hearings before the Shoreline Hearings Board in Olympia.
Meet with representatives of community interest groups to hear and consider related to proposed ordinances or other City legal matters. Inform the Mayor and City Council, and make recommendations as appropriate or necessary.
Respond to public inquiries to provide information that is open to the public, such as in the RCW's pertaining to City government.
Serve as department head of the Municipal Court and its employees, including the
Municipal Court Administrator and the Public Defender.
Evaluate performance and make recommendations for salary increases or other personnel action.
Represent the City at the Washington Cities Insurance Authority and serve as the liaison between the Insurance Authority and City department heads.
Responsible for oversight of risk management for the City.


May perform portions of the work of higher classified positions occasionally, as assigned.
May perform duties of similar complexity in any City department as required or assigned.


Must be a member in good standing of the Washington State Bar Association.
Must have a minimum of two years experience practicing law, preferably in some area comparable to or related to municipal law.
Desirable to have some experience with criminal law and to have a variety of legal experience.
Desirable to have courtroom litigation skills.
Must have administrative and supervision skills, includingability to prepare and administer a department budget.
Must be bondable.
Must possess a valid Washington State driver's license.
Must maintain professional and legal knowledge through reading and continuing education.
Must have or acquire computer knowledge sufficient to do legal research and to assign work to generate management level analyses and reports.

Physical Capabilities

Ability to sit for long periods, as necessary.
Physical stamina to sustain long work days, including trials and evening meetings, as necessary.
Physical ability occasionally to make access to various community sites for investigation purposes.

Other Capabilities

Ability to read and understand complex legal documents, regulations, and trial documents,and as necessary to interpret these to others as they apply to various situations.
Ability to write briefs, legal opinions, ordinances, resolutions, and correspondence.
Strong communications abilities, for example, to listen, negotiate, problem-solve, advise,and generally be accessible to diverse audiences, including department heads needing to discuss complex situations related or potentially related to their departments.

Use of Tools and Equipment

General office equipment, including computer for legal research and other functions.

As an absolute condition of employment, employees are required upon hire to sign a drug-free workplace agreement and an agreement not to use tobacco products in any form, both on and off the job.
The statements contained in this job description reflect general details as necessary to describe the principal functions of this job, the level of knowledge and skill typically required, and the scope of responsibility. It should not be considered an all-inclusive listing of work requirements. Individuals may perform other duties as assigned, including work in other functional areas to cover absences or relief, to equalize peak work periods, or otherwise to balance the work load.
Following an offer of employment, and prior to starting work, individuals must have a pre-employment physical examination by a physician designated by the City of Anacortes.
The examination will be paid for by the City. Satisfactory clearance to perform essential job functions will be required for employment.

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