The Civil Division

The Civil Division provides legal counsel and representation to the City's elected and appointed officials, giving these clients affordable, high-quality legal advice and representation for all levels of state and federal courts and administrative agencies. The Civil Division is organized into six specialized areas of practice.

Contracts and Utilities
The Contracts and Utilities Sections were combined in 2011. The Contracts Section is responsible for legal services at all stages of contract formulation, implementation and enforcement. It also develops and maintains standardized City contracts as well as participates as counsel in complex transactions such as capital projects for multi-million dollar construction and information technology contracts.

The Utilities Section provides legal services concerning City Light and Seattle Public Utilities. The section specializes in the utilities' unique legal needs such as rate making, regional, interstate and international natural resource acquisition and management, and energy licensing.

The Employment Section, along with the City's Personnel Department, is responsible for personnel policy development and labor relations matters, including litigation, civil service and arbitration proceedings. With over 11,000 City employees, including many union members, the personnel and labor issues facing the City are complex and diverse.

Environmental Protection
The Environmental Protection Section provides legal counsel on a full range of environmental issues, including Superfund cleanups, water resources, recovery actions, the Endangered Species Act, and long-term policy development.

Government Affairs
The Government Affairs Section advises on a variety of local government laws such as municipal finance and budgeting, taxation, initiatives and charter issues, legislation drafting, public disclosure and inter/intra-governmental relations. The section handles an array of civil code requirements, including enforcement of abatement actions, and pursues collection actions on delinquent accounts owed to the City.

Land Use
The Land Use Section provides legal counsel on zoning, planning, growth management, code enforcement, the state Environmental Policy Act, low-income housing development, preservation of historic properties, and acquisition of public property for open space, parks, and other public facilities.

The Torts Section primarily engages in litigation. This section defends the City in personal injury and property damage cases, which span the spectrum from minor matters to multimillion-dollar lawsuits.