Public Defense Attorney

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Organization information
Organization name: 
King County, Department of Public Defense
Street address: 
710 2nd Avenue, Suite 200
Job type: 
Legal - Defender
Position Description: 


The Department of Public Defense (DPD) seeks thoughtful, creative, energetic advocates to join our dynamic and diverse team of public defense attorneys.

DPD provides high-quality legal representation to indigent clients. DPD practices in several areas, including felonies, misdemeanors, juvenile defense, family defense (dependency cases), involuntary commitment (mental illness), sex offender commitment, and contempt of court. The department also works to address racial disproportionality in the criminal legal system, the collateral consequences of system involvement, and other structural and/or systemic issues that undermine the rights of our clients and their communities. DPD employs not only attorneys, but also skilled investigators, mitigation specialists, paralegals, and other support staff. Expert services are regularly funded, in keeping with state court rules.

Successful candidates will be dedicated, hard-working advocates, with excellent trial, research, and writing skills. An ability to think critically and creatively in a fast-paced environment is essential in this role, as well as a passion for public defense and a demonstrated commitment to representing indigent persons. Strong candidates will also possess the ability to receive feedback constructively and to reflect and modify performance accordingly.

The scope of representation expected by an attorney is determined by the nature of the case assignment and in accordance with the Rules of Professional Conduct. Caseload standards, established by the State Supreme Court, are observed in accordance with Washington State Bar Association guidelines. Attorneys in the Department of Public Defense are expected to complete all required trainings and to actively advance their level of practice by seeking additional learning opportunities. DPD pays bar dues and the cost of CLE credits.

To learn more about DPD, please visit our website at:

At this time, DPD intends to fill multiple Career Service and/or Term-Limited Temporary roles (TLT) and to generate an eligibility pool for future vacancies in career service and temporary positions over the next six months.

We anticipate placement being in a variety of practice areas, including criminal and family defense practice. Term-limited positions are anticipated to be approximately 12 months in length, with the possibility of extension.

These positions will initially be assigned to work in any of the following Seattle and/or Kent work locations:
-Dexter Horton Building, 710 Second Avenue, Seattle;
-Jefferson Street Building, 1401 East Jefferson, Seattle;
-Meeker Street Building, 420 West Harrison Street, Kent, or
-908 Jefferson St., Seattle.
If assigned to the civil commitment unit, assignments are to hospitals/treatment centers throughout the county.

Rotation of staff practice area and/or work location occurs based on business need.

Who May Apply: This recruitment is open to all qualified attorney candidates. DPD ethical walls policies and procedures will apply to applicants. Candidates hired through this recruitment will be considered by DPD for initial salary placement at Steps 1 through 6, dependent upon experience. (The salary listed on this posting represents Steps 1 through 6; this position currently tops out at $130,508.56)

Selection Process: Qualified and competitive candidates may be asked to participate in a series of interviews for these positions. Offers for available positions will be made to candidates who successfully pass the series of interviews and the referencing process.

For more information, or if you have questions about this position or process, please contact:

Crystal Lee Jones, PHR, SHRM-CP
Human Resource Analyst, DPD
[email protected]

Depending upon assignment, duties may include the following:
-Provide legal representation to and advocacy for indigent clients.
-Communicate effectively, including with individuals who lack English proficiency.
-Handle all aspects of representation, from arraignment through sentencing and post-trial as necessary.
-Research, write, and argue pretrial motions.
-Conduct plea and other negotiations and mitigation.
-Conduct jury or bench trials.
-Locate, work with, and prepare experts in various fields.
-Work with clients who may be experiencing mental illness, drug addiction, or other issues.
-Work with young adults, youth, and children.
-Work closely with, and in some instances lead, a team of investigators, mitigation specialists, and paralegals to develop and implement legal strategy and to properly assess and address client needs.
-Handle on-call 24-hour coverage, which, per attorney, currently occurs approximately one week a year, or two Saturday calendars.
-Other duties as assigned.


-J.D. from an accredited law school. (Current law students must apply through a separate posting designated for those who intend to take the bar. This posting will be available in August 2021).
-Demonstrated commitment to advocacy for disadvantaged individuals and/or to issues of economic, social, and racial justice.
-Demonstrated analytical, research, writing, and oral advocacy skills.
-Meticulous attention to detail.
-Ability to manage a caseload in a fast-paced environment.
-Ability to exercise excellent judgment, discretion, and confidentiality around sensitive issues.
-Admission to Washington State Bar Association or licensing in other states qualifying for a license under Rule 8.
-A valid Washington State driver's license or the ability to travel throughout King County in a timely manner.
-Must be at least 21 years old in order to enter facilities where our clients are being held.

-Proficiency in languages other than English, particularly Spanish.
-Clinical training in public defense.
-Lived experiencing involving the criminal legal system.

To apply: 

Special note regarding COVID-19: DPD is following Public Health and CDC guidance in regards to social distancing. Interviews for this position will be conducted remotely. Successful candidates may be required to telecommute and appear in court, the jail, or other areas as directed during the County's pandemic response.

Work Schedule: The normal work schedule is Monday through Friday, with some night and weekend work. This position is exempt from the Fair Labor Standards Act and is not eligible for overtime.

Where to Apply: Interested individuals should submit an online King County application, cover letter, resume, and a short, self-authored writing sample (in .doc, .docx. or .pdf format). You can find the online application at the following address. All questions on the electronic form must be completed; do not type "see resume."

Applicants will be required to demonstrate their qualifications at the time of the interviews and/or skills assessments.

Union membership: Positions in this classification are recognized by Service Employees International Union, Local 925.

Forbes recently named King County as one of Washington State's best employers.

Together, with leadership and our employees, we're changing the way government delivers service and winning national recognition as a model of excellence. Are you ready to make a difference? Come join the team dedicated to serving one of the nation's best places to live, work and play.

Guided by our "True North," we are making King County a welcoming community where every person can thrive. We value diversity, inclusion and belonging in our workplace and workforce. To reach this goal we are committed to workforce equity. Equitable recruiting, support, and retention is how we will obtain the highest quality workforce in our region; a workforce that shares and will help advance our guiding principles--we are one team; we solve problems; we focus on the customer; we drive for results; we are racially just; we respect all people; we lead the way; and we are responsible stewards. We encourage people of all backgrounds and identities to apply, including Native American and people of color, immigrants, refugees, women, LGBTQ+, people living with disabilities, and veterans.

King County is an Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) Employer
No person is unlawfully excluded from employment opportunities based on race, color, religion, national origin, sex (including gender identity, sexual orientation and pregnancy), age, genetic information, disability, veteran status, or other protected class. Our EEO policy applies to all employment actions, including but not limited to recruitment, hiring, selection for training, promotion, transfer, demotion, layoff, termination, rates of pay or other forms of compensation.

To Apply
If you are interested in pursuing this position, please follow the application instructions carefully. If you need this announcement in an alternate language or format, would like to request accommodation or assistance in the application or assessment process or if you have questions please contact your recruiter listed on this job announcement.

Equal Opportunity Employer
Salary range: 
$70,782.40 - $109,491.20 Annually
Submission deadline: 
Tuesday, November 24, 2020