Public Defense Attorney - Supervisor

King County   Seattle, WA   Full-time     Legal
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Posted on October 15, 2020

The Department of Public Defense (DPD) provides high-quality legal representation to indigent clients. DPD practices in several areas, including felonies, misdemeanors, juvenile defense, family defense (dependency cases), involuntary commitment (mental illness), sex offender commitment, and contempt of court. DPD also works to address racial disproportionality in the criminal legal system, the collateral consequences of system involvement, and other structural and systemic issues that undermine the rights of our clients. We employ not only attorneys, but also skilled investigators, mitigation specialists, paralegals, and other support staff. 

The Northwest Defenders Division (NDD) is seeking interested applicants for a Special Duty or Career Service Public Defense Attorney – Supervisor position, supervising attorneys and paralegals. The successful applicant will have a passion for public defense and for representing clients, focusing on their objectives, interests, and dignity. They will be committed to fighting institutional and structural racism and willing to address issues related to equity and social justice within the workplace and the broader work of public defense. They will have a demonstrated ability to supervise the work of other lawyers and support staff and to mentor, develop, evaluate, and support employees in a fast-paced environment.

Candidates should be fully knowledgeable of court procedures and the law; have considerable trial experience; possess excellent writing, research, and analytic skills, and have expertise in case preparation, handling and disposition. In many instances, attorney supervisors will carry a partial caseload.

Levels of responsibility will range from supervising entry-level attorneys to those who are highly experienced. The supervisor will ensure that caseload standards that foster excellence in legal representation are observed in accordance with Washington State Bar Association guidelines. Supervising attorneys will have a demonstrated commitment to the Division, DPD, and the clients. The successful applicant will have an aptitude for management and leadership and will be able to work within a team of managers.

To learn more about DPD, please visit our website at:

Who May ApplyThis recruitment is INTERNAL ONLY and open to current King County Department of Public Defense (DPD) employees within the NDD Division. DPD is currently accepting applications to fill one Special Duty or Career Service Public Defense Attorney- Supervisor position in the NDD Division. The initial term of this position will be six-months with a potential for extension. Practice area placement will be dependent upon the experience of the successful candidate. The work location and practice area of this position can be rotated based on business need. DPD Ethical Walls Policies and Procedures will apply to applicants.

This recruitment may also be used to fill special duty and career service attorney supervisor opportunities within six-months of the close of this recruitment. All interested applicants are encouraged to apply.

For more information, contact:
Crystal Lee Jones, PHR, SHRM-CP
Human Resource Analyst, DPD

Job Duties

  • Supervise attorneys and paralegal staff.
  • Develop, evaluate, train, mentor, and coach unit employees.
  • Ensure work conforms with prevailing professional standards and applicable statutes, rules, and DPD and county policies.
  • Implement and monitor corrective and career development action plans and provide support to enable employees to make positive changes.
  • Conduct performance evaluations of unit employees, at least annually, and as required for probationary periods and for TLTs.
  • Assign and balance workload among attorneys within unit. Assign and monitor workload of paralegal(s).
  • Ensure unit employees are up to date on DPD policies and developments, relevant legislative proposals or enactments, and administrative and case law changes that bear on the practice area.
  • Act as a catalyst for problem-solving and conflict resolution within the unit and the division.
  • Maintain and update, as needed, a computerized case-management system to track caseloads and individual assignments. Have a working knowledge of the case management system and learn to use reports to evaluate and support the work of the unit.
  • Identify cases that present an ethical conflict of interest for DPD.
  • Work with Director's Office to ensure unit employees have the training and resources they need to do their jobs well.
  • Actively support and promote DPD's mission and all policies and practices, including internal and external activities that strengthen public defense in King County.
  • Set a positive and supportive tone in the division.
  • Serve at least twice a year on call and supervise the on-call attorneys.
  • Be an active member of the Division Management Team, attend meetings, relay necessary information, and assist with office-wide initiatives and operational matters.
  • In consultation and coordination with the NDD Managing Attorney and Human Resource staff, conduct disciplinary investigations and impose discipline, when appropriate.
  • Work closely with all supervisors to coordinate overlapping work and support the efficient operation of the division.
  • Perform other duties as assigned.

Experience, Qualifications, Knowledge, Skills

  • Demonstrated ability to supervise other attorneys, including establishing goals and assigning responsibilities, communicating work performance standards, establishing work priorities, evaluating, and disciplining.
  • Demonstrated ability to assess and make program changes and address and resolve safety, training, and personnel issues.
  • Ability to learn and apply human resources, DPD, and County procedures and policies.
  • A working understanding of skills necessary to resolve conflict between employees, including addressing microaggressions and other offensive behaviors in the workplace.
  • Ability to manage a work unit, creating systems that allow workflow to be predictable and staff to be supported to complete the necessary work.
  • Knowledge of application of legal principles to individual cases or problems.
  • Knowledge of judicial and trial procedure and rules of evidence.
  • Knowledge of the principles, methods, and practices of legal research and investigation.
  • Skill in understanding and interpreting complex laws and regulations and analyzing complex legal documents and instruments.
  • Skill in the ability to present facts, evidence, and precedents concerned in complex cases in the form of briefs, opinions, orders, or decisions. 
  • Skill in understanding and interpreting constitutional provisions, statutes, administrative regulations, and precedents.
  • Skill in researching, interpreting, applying, and explaining applicable laws, codes, regulations, and court decisions.
  • Knowledge of community resources and referral agencies appropriate to the specific program service.
  • Knowledge of software applications, particularly as related to the performance of legal research and case management.
  • Knowledge of case management.
  • Skill in working and building rapport with diverse cultural, socio-economic, and ethnic populations.
  • Ability to build a strong attorney/client relationship.
  • Ability to communicate and work collaboratively with all segments of judicial and criminal justice systems.
  • Ability to investigate and document complaints and improve client relations.
  • Strong interpersonal skills, ability to communicate clearly, professionally, and with empathy.
  • Ability to communicate with supervisees in a manner that relays necessary information in an organized, clear, and helpful manner.
  • A demonstrated commitment to the clients of DPD.
  • A demonstrated understanding of the systemic and institutional racism and barriers that effect the clients of DPD.
Education and Experience Requirements
Juris Doctor degree from accredited law school.

Licensing, Certification and Other Requirements
Member of the Washington State Bar Association in good standing and have been a lawyer for at least three years.

Washington State Driver's License or ability to travel to required destinations.

Supplemental Information

Where to Apply: Interested and eligible employees should submit their electronic applications via this recruitment and attach a resume and letter of interest indicating how you meet the qualifications of the position.

Selection Process: Materials will be reviewed for qualifications, and the most competitive candidates may be invited to participate in a panel interview process. Applicants may be required to demonstrate their qualifications at the time of the interview and/or skills assessment. Personnel file reviews and references may be conducted for the most competitive candidates prior to a placement decision.

Pay upon placement is determined by the provisions of the Master Labor Agreement.
Work Location and Schedule: This position will be located at various NDD Division offices in Seattle and Kent. The positions are exempt from the provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act, and not overtime eligible. The workweek is normally 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday. 
Union: The position is represented by the Teamsters, Local 117.

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 your 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
  • 10 paid 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.

Are you a current attorney employed by DPD in the NDD division?
  • Yes
  • No
Are you applying to this position as a Priority Placement Program Participant And Is this position the same or lower percentage of full-time when compared to the position held at the point of the notification of layoff AND Do you possess the skills and abilities to qualify for this position?
  • Yes, I was given a layoff notice from my role at King County AND I am within two years of the effective date of my layoff. AND The position I was laid off from was the same or a higher percentage of FT status when compared to this one.
  • No.
If you answered yes to the question above and you are applying for this position as a Priority Placement Participant, to be considered, you must provide the following three pieces of information in the space provided: 1. The title you held when you received your layoff notice 2. The department you worked in 3. The effective date of your layoff

Required Question