Public Defense Attorney

King County   Pioneer Square, WA   Full-time     Legal
Posted on March 18, 2023
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$76,950.17 - $149,126.04 Annually

Seattle, WA

Job Type
Multiple job types-career service and/or temp

DPD - Dept of Public Defense

Job Number

7/2/2023 11:59 PM Pacific


King County Department of Public Defense (DPD) seeks skilled, committed, creative advocates who will fight for clients while working to dismantle a harmful and racially disproportionate system.

DPD seeks attorneys who want to be a part of the fight on behalf of our clients. Our attorneys work in teams that include skilled investigators, mitigation specialists, paralegals, and other support staff to provide client-centered representation. DPD encourages trial with the support and assistance of experienced supervisors. DPD attorneys employ robustly funded expert services/witnesses, in keeping with state court rules. Our training program provides frequent in-house trainings and opportunities to participate in the best national trainings. Attorneys enjoy flexible work schedules and may telecommute when they do not have court or client-related obligations.

Successful candidates will be dedicated, hard-working advocates, with excellent trial, research, and writing skills. Candidates must be dedicated to serving people who are racially and socioeconomically marginalized and contributing to an anti-oppressive workplace environment.

DPD intends to fill multiple Career Service and/or Term-Limited Temporary (TLT) roles and to generate an eligibility pool for future vacancies in career service and temporary positions over the next six months.

DPD provides vigorous legal representation to indigent clients in felonies, misdemeanors, juvenile defense, family defense (dependency cases), involuntary commitment (mental illness), sex offender commitment, and inquests. We work with the community to dismantle the systems that oppress our clients, to make the traditional systems that remain as restorative as possible, and to advocate for pathways that will allow our clients to succeed. We also advocate to reduce the harm and reach of the criminal legal system and civil legal systems that restrict our clients' liberty and to address systemic racism. We strive to create a flexible workplace culture that is inclusive, respectful, and supportive, premised on a shared anti-oppression framework.

To learn more about DPD, visit our website at:

SCOPE OF JOB DUTIES: To be considered minimally qualified for this position, you must demonstrate knowledge, skill, and ability to perform the following:
  • Provide competent legal representation to and advocacy for indigent clients including with individuals who lack English proficiency.
  • Handle all aspects of representation, from arraignment through trial and, if necessary, sentencing and post-trial; conduct plea and other negotiations and mitigation.
  • Engage in motions practice involving research, writing, and arguing pretrial motions, including working with and preparing experts in various fields.
  • Work with a diverse client base who may be experiencing traumatic mental illness, drug addiction, or other systemic issues.
  • Develop and implement legal strategies and properly assess and address client needs, which may include partnering with investigators, mitigation specialists, and paralegals.
Depending upon assignment, detailed specifics of job duties are assigned by practice area and agency.

  • Can provide client-driven representation that includes frequent and detailed communication with the client, choosing the most effective medium for the client.
  • Champion equity and social justice; understand pervasive, systematic racism and its long-term effects; feels comfortable engaging in candid and sincere conversations with all interested parties about race and equity in our work.
  • Possess excellent communication skills. Can effectively communicate to all interested parties their analysis either spoken or in writing.
  • Can manage a high caseload in a fast-paced environment.
  • Feel comfortable working with diverse clients (race, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, religion, and national origin).
In addition, it is highly desirable if you:
  • Have proficiency in languages other than English, particularly Spanish.
  • Possess clinical training in public defense.
  • Have lived experience involving the criminal legal system shared by DPD's clients.
DPD employees enjoy a flexible, hybrid in-office/telecommute workplace structure, and attorneys should expect to work both in the office and remotely, while being required to report to other locations, such as court, jail facilities, and hospitals/treatment centers throughout the county.

DPD prioritizes frequent and robust client contact and in-person court presence. DPD maintains physical offices in Downtown Seattle, First Hill and Kent.

Rotation of staff practice area and/or work location occurs based on business need.

The normal work schedule is Monday through Friday, with some night and weekend work.

At King County, our work is guided by our True North and values. Our True North is what we aspire to: Making King County a welcoming community where every person can thrive.

King County offers great benefits, to include a pension plan, holidays, transit pass, plus training and education opportunities to promote growth and development.

Our focus is to provide our employees with work life balance
  • 100% premium paid healthcare plans
  • Paid new admittee and annual renewal fees for Washington State Bar Association
  • Paid Orca Card allowing multiple transportation options to/from the office
  • On - Site exercise facilities and bike storage
  • Paid vacation time (in addition to paid holidays)
  • Twelve paid holidays and Two Additional personal holidays
  • Paid sick leave
  • Paid parental leave
  • Deferred compensation plan
  • Employer Contributions to state pension plan
  • Awesome Employee Giving Program

This opportunity to join an amazing public defense organization is open to all applicants. DPD ethical walls policies and procedures will apply to applicants.

The following items are required to process your application:
  1. King County application. or click apply.
  2. Cover letter addressing the following topic: What does being a public defender mean to you? How does your experience and background assist you in achieving results for your clients?
  3. Resume.
  4. Legal writing sample, such as a brief, motion, letter on behalf of a client, etc.
Positions in this classification are recognized by Service Employees International Union, Local 925.

For more information, or if you have questions about this position or process, please contact: Falisha Forgash at

To accept this role, you must:
  • Possess a J.D. from an accredited law school. (Current law students must apply through a separate posting designated for those who intend to take the bar. This posting will be available in August 2023).
  • Be admitted to Washington State Bar Association or licensing in other states qualifying for a license under Rule 8.
  • Be at least 21 years old to enter facilities where our clients are being held at time of hire.
  • Handle on-call 24-hour coverage - which, per attorney, currently occurs approximately one week a year or two Saturday calendars a year.
  • Maintain a valid Washington State driver's license or the ability to travel throughout King County in a timely manner.
DPD Policies
DPD Ethical Walls Policies and Procedures will apply to applicants, such that if you work or have worked for one of DPD's divisions, you may be ineligible to work in another division.

Outside Work Policy for Attorneys will apply to applicants, such that you must receive approval from your supervisor and Managing Attorney before being permitted to engage in outside employment for compensation or volunteer.

Forbes recently named King County as one of Washington State's best employers.

Together, with leadership and our employees, we're changing the way government delivers service and winning national recognition as a model of excellence. Are you ready to make a difference? Come join the team dedicated to serving one of the nation's best places to live, work and play.

Guided by our "True North" , we are making King County a welcoming community where every person can thrive. We value diversity, inclusion and belonging in our workplace and workforce. To reach this goal we are committed to workforce equity. Equitable recruiting, support, and retention is how we will obtain the highest quality workforce in our region; a workforce that shares and will help advance our guiding principles--we are one team; we solve problems; we focus on the customer; we drive for results; we are racially just; we respect all people; we lead the way; and we are responsible stewards. We encourage people of all backgrounds and identities to apply, including Native American and people of color, immigrants, refugees, women, LGBTQ+, people living with disabilities, and veterans.

King County is an Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) Employer
No person is unlawfully excluded from employment opportunities based on race, color, religion, national origin, sex (including gender identity, sexual orientation and pregnancy), age, genetic information, disability, veteran status, or other protected class. Our EEO policy applies to all employment actions, including but not limited to recruitment, hiring, selection for training, promotion, transfer, demotion, layoff, termination, rates of pay or other forms of compensation.

To Apply
If you are interested in pursuing this position, please follow the application instructions carefully. If you need this announcement in an alternate language or format, would like to request accommodation or assistance in the application or assessment process or if you have questions please contact the recruiter listed on this job announcement.

King County offers a highly-competitive compensation and benefits package designed to meet the diverse needs of our employees and support our employees' health and well-being. Eligible positions receive the following benefits and have access to the following programs:
  • Medical, dental, and vision coverage: King County pays 100% of the premiums for eligible employees and family members
  • Life and disability insurance: employees are provided basic coverage and given the opportunity to purchase additional insurance for both the employee and eligible dependents
  • Retirement: King County employees are eligible to participate in a pension plan through the Washington State Department of Retirement Systems and a 457(b) deferred-compensation plan
  • Transportation program and ORCA transit pass
  • 12paid holidays each year (plus 2 personal holidays)
  • Generous vacation and paid sick leave
  • Paid parental leave, family and medical leaves, and volunteer leave
  • Flexible Spending Account
  • Wellness programs
  • Onsite gyms and activity centers
  • Employee giving program
  • Employee assistance programs
  • Flexible schedules and telecommuting options, depending on position
  • Training and career development programs
For additional information about employee benefits please visit our Benefits, Payroll, and Retirement Page .

This is a general description of the benefits offered to eligible King County employees, and every effort has been made to ensure its accuracy. If any information on this document conflicts with the provisions of a collective bargaining agreement (CBA), the CBA prevails. Also, in the event of any incorrect information in this document, applicable laws, policies, rules, CBAs, or official plan documents will prevail.

NOTE: Benefits for Term Limited Temporary (TLT) or Short Term Temporary (STT) positions, including leave eligibility and/or participation in the pension plan through the Washington State Department of Retirement Systems, will vary based upon the terms and details of the position.Short Term Temporary positions are not eligible for an ORCA transit pass.

For inquiries about the specifics of this position, please contact the recruiter identified on this job posting.