Assistant Port Attorney
Port of San Diego - San Diego, CA

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Under general policy direction of the Port Attorney, assists the Port Attorney in providing advice and counsel and expert legal services to the Board of Port Commissioners and Port staff; represents the Port Attorney in the Port Attorney’s absence; and performs related duties as assigned.


This single incumbent class provides legal services and counsel to Commissioners, managers and staff on legal issues of significant complexity, sensitivity and potential risk and consequences for the Port. The incumbent also represents the Port Attorney in that individual’s absence and provides work direction and guidance to other legal staff as directed. While issues vary in difficulty and complexity, the incumbent typically performs the most complex, difficult or sensitive matters requiring the application of seasoned, expert legal judgment and expert litigation skills.

Essential Duties and Responsibilities:

The following statements are intended to describe the general nature and level of work performed by people assigned to this classification. They are not intended to be an exhaustive list of all responsibilities, duties and skills required of personnel so classified.

1. Provides legal advice and representation on a wide range of complex legal matters, including complex issues related to Port contractual rights and obligations, real estate, construction, maritime, employment, conflicts of interest, Public Records Act, Brown Act and compliance with Port District Act, Code and Board of Port Commissioners policies; researches legal issues and statutory and case law; drafts and/or reviews opinions, resolutions, ordinances, contracts and other legal documents and instruments; monitors, reviews and drafts recommended changes to proposed legislation.

2. Negotiates or supervises the negotiation of settlements to litigation, claims and disputes; participates with departments in negotiating and drafting complex contracts and agreements for acquisition, use and development of Port property and facilities.

3. Performs litigation duties as to court actions, motions, discovery; represents the Port in administrative hearings, arbitrations, mediations or other adversarial proceedings as directed by the Port Attorney.

4. Coordinates and monitors the work of outside counsel retained to resolve claims or represent the Port in hearings and litigation; provides advice to Commissioners, Port executives and managers on the status of litigation.

5. Attends meetings of the Board of Port Commissioners and Board Committees when assigned; participates with Port staff in the preparation and review of matters to be presented to the Board.

6. Assists the Port Attorney with policy and office management issues; represents the Port Attorney in his/her absence.
7. Supervises and provides guidance and direction to other attorneys and professional staff in the Port Attorney’s office.

8. Responds to requests from Commissioners.


1. Participates with Port management on strategic and business planning processes and issues.

2. Assists and coordinates with member city attorneys on projects and matters of mutual interest.


Knowledge of:

1. Principles and practices of civil and administrative law, especially as they relate to governmental entities or special districts in the State of California.

2. Effective strategies, practices and techniques in the conduct of negotiations and litigation.

3. The Port Act, Brown Act, Public Records Act, Political Reform Act and other laws, regulations, ordinances, policies and opinions applicable to the operations of the District.

4. Principles, methods and techniques of legal research and investigation.

5. Code, state and federal law and regulation, court decisions and other legal requirements applicable to governmental or special district functions, operations and personnel.

6. Effective principles and practices of legal communication.

7. Basic principles and practices of law office administration.

8. Principles and practices of effective management and supervision.

9. Port human resources Rules and Regulations, policies and labor contract provisions.

10. Employment law, laws and policies related to labor and employment contract provisions.

Ability to:

1. Define, analyze and litigate complex legal issues and problems; research and organize facts, perform legal risk-benefit analyses, evaluate alternatives and develop sound conclusions and legal advice.

2. Present statements of fact, law and argument clearly, logically and persuasively.

3. Exercise sound, independent judgment within general policy guidelines and legal parameters.

4. Interpret and explain state and federal law, regulations, legislation and constitutional provisions affecting Port operations.

5. Develop sound negotiations and litigation strategy and represent the Port effectively in meetings and hearings.

6. Draft clear, concise and competent legal opinions, briefs, resolutions, ordinances, agreements, contracts, proposed legislation, reports, correspondence and other written materials.

7. Use effective written and oral communication skills, including explaining complex and unfamiliar legal principles to non-technical audiences.

8. Use a high degree of integrity and discretion in dealing with confidential issues and situations.

9. Develop and maintain effective working relationships with Commissioners, all levels of Port management, other municipal attorneys and outside legal counsel, representatives of other public agencies and others encountered in the course of work.


Education, Training and Experience:

Graduation with a Juris Doctor degree from an accredited law school and at least ten years of progressively responsible experience in the practice of law, preferably in a public agency. Time served as a District Intern will count towards the years of experience.

Licenses; Certificates; Special Requirements:

Current membership in good standing in the State Bar of California.
A current, valid California Class C driver’s license at time of appointment and maintained at all times thereafter in order to operate a vehicle on District business.

Supplemental Information:


Persons with disabilities may be able to perform the essential duties of this class with reasonable accommodation. Reasonable accommodation will be evaluated on an individual basis and depends, in part, on the specific requirements for the job, the limitations related to disability and the ability of the hiring department to accommodate the limitation.

Resolution #: 2012 - 85

Dated: June 12, 2012