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 seven specialized areas of practice.

Contracts and Utilities
The Contracts and Utilities Section is responsible for legal services at all stages of contract formulation, implementation and enforcement. The Section provides advice on City contracts that are maintained by other City departments in a standardized form, as well as for complex transactions such as capital projects for multi-million dollar construction and information technology contracts. The Section further provides general counsel services to the City's electric, water, wastewater and solid waste utilities. Section attorneys have unique and specialized experience in utility matters, including advising on regional and interstate cooperative arrangements, resource acquisition and management, and regulatory compliance matters.

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.

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. Read about one of this section's projects here: Brightening the Duwamish's Future.

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.

Regulatory Enforcement and Economic Justice
The Regulatory Enforcement and Economic Justice Section is responsible for civil enforcement of City Codes, including civil rights, labor standards, housing, zoning and licensing regulations. Also, the Police Action Team works closely with SPD to coordinate efforts on litigation, client advice, subpoena responses, and the federal Consent Decree.

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.