Public Defender for the County of Los Angeles

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Job location
500 W. Temple Street
Room 555
Los Angeles, CA 90012
United States
Organization information
Organization name: 
County of Los Angeles
Street address: 
500 W. Temple Street
Los Angeles
Job type: 
Legal - Defender
Position Description: 

This position has full responsibility for planning and directing all of the operations for the Department of Public Defender for the County of Los Angeles. The Public Defender reports to the elected Board of Supervisors and manages one of the country's largest public defender offices, with over 1,100 employees. The Los Angeles Public Defender’s Office provides free legal defense for any person who is not financially able to employ counsel and who is charged with any contempt or offense triable in the Superior or Justice Courts, at all stages of the proceedings, without expense to the defendant, except as otherwise provided by law.

Responsibilities include:

Formulates departmental policy, directs its execution and evaluates work accomplished.
Directs the work of Deputies in representing defendants in all phases of criminal justice hearings including arraignment, preliminary hearings and in felony and misdemeanor trials in the Superior Courts.

Directs the work of Deputies in the representation of minors whose parents are unwilling or financially unable to obtain counsel in Juvenile Court proceedings.

Directs all staff and activities of the Public Defender’s Office providing publicly assisted legal defense services as mandated by California Government Code section 27706.

Directs the determination of eligibility for the Public Defender’s services.

Directs the work of Deputies in representing indigent persons in Mental Health Court proceedings which may result in detention, incarceration or other deprivation of liberty.

Directs field investigations to locate witnesses and obtain information to assist the defense of a client.

Possess demonstrated ability to create strong working relationships with judicial officers and the District Attorney, Sheriff, Probation and others to develop creative solutions that protect public safety, save taxpayer money, and best serve client interests.

Be knowledgeable and proficient in vigorously pursuing information allowed by Brady v. Maryland when working with prosecutors and law enforcement to obtain exculpatory evidence on behalf of clients.

In the event of what reasonably appears to be an erroneous prejudgment adverse ruling, directs the filing of pretrial writs in appellate courts; and conversely responds to such prejudgment writs filed by prosecutors.

Confers with judges, the District Attorney, City Attorneys, probation officers and others regarding any and all matters relative to the operation of the criminal justice system.
Have existing relationships with legislative bodies.

Maintains effective public relations with other departments, agencies, members of the justice system and the public.

Meet regularly and work with a variety of government representatives, community representatives, judges, law enforcement officers and other stakeholders.

Keep informed of developments in state and federal legislation impacting the Public Defender and/or Los Angeles County.

Serve as an advisor to staff attorneys and work with the staff in the preparation and trial of assigned cases.

Be available to assist staff attorneys by acting as co-counsel as opportunity and/or need presents.

Attend trainings and events provided by bar associations.

Directs the fiscal, personnel, budget and other administrative functions of the Department.

Directs the development of changes in organization, staffing, work processing and management information systems to increase effectiveness and efficiency and reduce administrative costs of the Department.

Makes periodic reports to the Chief Executive Officer and the Board of Supervisors regarding the accomplishments of the Department.

Recommends the adoption, enactment and amendment of County ordinances, resolutions, regulations, state and federal statutes, and the County Charter in order to provide effective, efficient and economical administration of the Department.

Develops and implements a human resources plan that ensures that departmental hiring and promotion opportunities are consistent with the County’s equal opportunity employment policy.

Oversees the management of a recruiting system for professional staff that includes summer law clerks, seasonal law clerks, senior law clerks, paralegals and lawyers, among others.

Oversees the management of a training program for all staff that includes law clerks, new lawyers, juvenile lawyers, capital lawyers, State Bar mandatory continuing legal education for all lawyers, investigators, paralegals, psychiatric social workers and secretarial staff.


Minimum requirements

Demonstrated knowledge, skills and abilities required in managing or assisting in the overall management of a public legal agency responsible for the legal defense of persons charged with a criminal offense. Such management includes responsibility for the technical and administrative direction of attorneys and the preparation of budgets and other administrative duties necessary to the conduct of the agency’s affairs.

– OR –

Demonstrated knowledge, skills and abilities required in managing a law firm involved in criminal litigation. Such management includes administrative direction of the business affairs of the firm and supervisory responsibility for the technical direction of attorneys handling criminal cases.


Pursuant to the California Government Code, the appointee must have been a practicing attorney in California for at least the year immediately preceding the date of appointment.
Active Bar Card – In good standing.

A valid California Class C Driver License or the ability to utilize an alternative method of transportation when needed to carry out essential job-related functions is required.


A comprehensive knowledge of management control systems, financial planning and utilization of resources, including technology.

Experience serving in the capacity of Public Defender, Special Counsel to the Public Defender, Chief Deputy Public Defender, Assistant Public Defender, or other relevant experience.

Ability to establish and maintain liaison with legislative bodies, County Departments and other stakeholders.

Ability to apply creativity and innovation to the solution of complex problems.

Knowledge of and ability to interpret and apply provisions of law and recent reforms relating to children in Juvenile Court proceedings, including, but not limited to, trauma informed care and risk and need assessments.

Demonstrated leadership ability, including working effectively with community and advocate groups.


JD and advanced education in public administration, business administration or criminal law.

To apply: 

To learn more about this opportunity or to apply, please contact Korn Ferry search consultants at [email protected].

Equal Opportunity Employer
Submission deadline: 
Friday, September 8, 2017