Public Defense Paralegal

King County   Seattle, WA   Full-time     Legal
Posted on September 9, 2021
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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. The department also works to address racial disproportionality in the criminal legal system, the collateral consequences of system involvement, and other structural and/or systemic issues that undermine the rights of our clients and their communities. DPD employs attorneys, skilled investigators, mitigation specialists, paralegals, and other support staff. Expert services are regularly funded, in keeping with state court rules.  
To learn more about DPD, please visit our website at:

About the Position
Public defense paralegals work in a fast-paced environment as part of a client-centered defense team advocating for the client’s objectives. Their duties vary, depending on the needs of the client, but often include researching the law, reviewing cases, analyzing data, and organizing evidence. Paralegals also draft correspondence, pleadings, and motions; prepare case files; assemble trial binders; obtain documents by subpoena; communicate with clients, family members, and others; and coordinate parties and witnesses in advance of hearings and trials.

Who May Apply
This recruitment is open to the public. 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 for this position. Applicants for special duty must be current King County employees who have passed their initial probationary period. Special duty applicants must have approval from their current supervisor to accept an acting assignment.
This recruitment will be used to fill vacancies that occur over the next six months across all divisions in career service, special duty, and term-limited temporary capacities.

Work Schedule
This position is covered by the provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act and is overtime eligible with pre-approval from the supervisor. The work week is normally 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Rotations of work location between our four office locations in Seattle and Kent can occur based on business need, and initial placements may be made to any of the following Seattle and/or Kent work locations:  
  • Dexter Horton Building, 710 Second Avenue, Seattle
  • Jefferson Street Building, 1401 East Jefferson, Seattle
  • Meeker Street Building, 420 West Harrison Street, Kent
Forms and Materials Required
  1. An online employment application completed at The employment history should go back at least 10 years if you have 10 years of employment (or more to include all relevant experience). 
  2. A cover letter no more than two pages summarizing your experience and how you meet the required qualifications, knowledge, and skills for the position.
  3. A resume.
  4. A short self-authored writing sample (in .doc, .docx, or .pdf format) prepared for this selection process. 
For more information, contact:
Cassandra Montgomery
Human Resource Analyst

Job Duties

  • Notify/inform witnesses, attorneys and other parties of case status; coordinate parties and witnesses for hearings or trials; schedule interviews with attorneys and witnesses; set administrative hearings.
  • Perform legal research on statutes and cases; gather facts, analyze data and review cases; conduct conflict of interest checks in cases assigned.
  • Draft correspondence, pleadings, and motions; prepare hearing exhibits; prepare case files and assemble trial binders.
  • Process and serve legal documents/subpoenas. Obtain documents by subpoena and other investigation and discovery methods.
  • Develop and maintain caseload and case assignment tracking systems and databases. Update case files in our computerized case-management system.
  • Assist at hearings.
  • Serve as a liaison with clients, prosecutors, probation officers, bailiffs, judges, and criminal legal agencies.
  • Support attorney time record-keeping and assist in the submission of hours; monitor progress of cases.
  • Perform other duties as assigned.

Experience, Qualifications, Knowledge, Skills

  • A Bachelor's degree from an accredited university or a certification from an accredited paralegal training institution and three years of related experience, or any combination of experience/education/training that provides the required knowledge, skills, and abilities to perform the work.
  • Knowledge of the Guidelines for Criminal Defense adopted by the Washington State Bar Association.
  • Knowledge of the role of the attorney-client relationship and the requirement to adhere to the Washington State Bar Association Rules of Professional Conduct.
  • Knowledge of civil and criminal law and terminology, court rules and procedures.
  • Knowledge of legal research methods and practices.
  • Knowledge of interviewing techniques.
  • Ability to provide support in the building of a strong attorney/client relationship.
  • Knowledge of general office procedures, equipment, and administration.
  • Advanced skills in writing pleadings, motions, and briefs.
  • Ability to ensure work performed conforms with prevailing professional standards and applicable statutes and county policy.
  • Skill in handling multiple competing priorities, sensitive situations, and crisis situations, and an ability to function well under time pressure.
  • Skill in interpreting complex legal documents, instruments, regulations, and laws.
  • Skill in working with a variety of individuals from diverse backgrounds.
  • Ability to work both independently and as a team member.
  • Skill in using office software programs, including word processing (MS Word), spreadsheet (MS Excel), database software, proprietary case management systems, and email (MS Outlook).
  • A valid Washington State Driver's License or the ability to travel throughout the county in a timely manner.
  • Must be at least 21 years of ag

Supplemental Information

Special Note Regarding COVID-19
DPD is following Public Health and CDC guidance in regard to social distancing. Interviews for the position will be conducted remotely. Successful candidates may be required to telecommute and come into the office on a periodic basis; frequency could vary based on business and operational needs.
Application Process
Interested individuals should submit a complete online King County application (all blanks must be filled out and may not direct the reader to reference an attached resume or other document. Answers that say "see resume" will be considered as incomplete), a cover letter, resume, and a short self-authored writing sample (in .doc, .docx, or .pdf format) prepared for this selection process.
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.

Offer of employment is contingent on: 

  • Successful completion of references.
  • Successfully passing a division conflicts check.
  • Passing security clearance and/or background check to secure access to correctional facilities.
Candidates will be offered positions based upon performance in the selection process and the needs of the work unit.
Union membership: Positions in this classification are recognized by Service Employees International Union, Local 925.
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.

Covid-19 Vaccination Requirement 
As of October 18, 2021, most* King County employees are required to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19. If hired, you will be required to submit proof of vaccination by October 18th. People are considered fully vaccinated two weeks after their second dose in a two-dose series or two weeks after a single-dose vaccine. Employees may make requests for a reasonable accommodation based on a medical disability or for sincerely held religious beliefs. Philosophical, political, scientific, or sociological objections to vaccination will not be considered for an exemption or accommodation.

This directive applies to employees in the Executive branch*, the Assessor’s Office, Elections, the King County Sheriff’s Office, and the Executive Office.  
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 or former King County Department of Public Defense employee?
  • Yes
  • No
If yes to the above, in which division(s)? Otherwise, please indicate N/A.
  • Associated Counsel for the Accused
  • Northwest Defenders
  • Society of Counsel Representing the Accused Persons
  • The Defender Association
  • Director's Office
  • None of the above
  • N/A
What is the highest level of education you currently possess?
  • Diploma/GED
  • Some College/Associate's Degree
  • Bachelor's Degree
  • Master's Degree/Juris Doctor
  • None of the above
Do you possess a certification from a nationally accredited paralegal training institution?
  • Yes
  • No
How many years of paralegal experience do you have?
  • No experience
  • Less than one year
  • One to three years
  • Three or more years
Where did you obtain the above experience? Please provide a summary of tasks you routinely completed and your job title. (If no experience, enter 'N/A').
Did you attach a cover letter, resume, and a self-authored writing sample? (Please note that applications without these items will not be considered).
  • Yes
  • No
By applying for this position, I agree that I am willing and able to work in any of the following Seattle and/or Kent work locations: Dexter Horton Building, 710 Second Avenue, Seattle; Jefferson Street Building, 1401 East Jefferson, Seattle or Meeker Street Building, 420 West Harrison Street, Kent.
  • Yes
  • No
Are you applying to this position as an eligible Current or Previous King County Employee 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