The Civil Division of the Seattle City Attorney's Office provides legal counsel and representation to the City's elected and appointed officials. It serves the public interest by providing these clients with the affordable, high quality legal advice and representation that they need to best achieve their policies and goals.
The Division is organized into six specialized areas of practice in which attorneys provide legal counsel and representation in litigation at all levels of state and federal courts and administrative agencies.
The Contracts and Utilities Sections were combined in 2011. The contracts portion of this section is responsible for legal services at all stages of contract formulation, implementation and enforcement, including negotiation, drafting, administration and litigation. It also develops and maintains standardized City contracts as well as participating as counsel in complex transactions such as capital projects for multi-million dollar construction and information technology contracts.
The Utilities portion provides legal services concerning the City's utilities: City Light and Seattle Public Utilities (light, solid waste, water, drainage and wastewater). 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.
With over 11,000 City employees, including many union members, the personnel and labor issues facing the City are complex and diverse. In conjunction with the City's Personnel Department, the Employment Section is responsible for personnel policy development and labor relations matters, including litigation, civil service and arbitration proceedings.
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.
The Government Affairs Section provides legal advice on a wide variety of local government law 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 the City.
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 multi-million dollar lawsuits.