Deputy County Counsel I County of Sonoma

Position Information


Join a collegial team of attorneys and staff committed to public service and
quality of life in beautiful Sonoma County.

County Counsel’s Land Use Practice Group seeks highly motivated, career-oriented attorneys with excellent research and writing skills, the ability to think strategically and creatively, and the desire to assume responsibility and work cooperatively on complex, fast-moving projects.

IMPORTANT: This recruitment is being conducted to fill one full-time Deputy County Counsel – Land Use position in County Counsel’s Office. The position will be filled at either the I, II, or III level. This recruitment is being conducted at the Deputy County Counsel I level and the salary range is $99,597.37 – $121,073.83, annually. If you are an attorney with professional experience, please refer to the Deputy County Counsel II and III recruitments that we are currently conducting.

Benefits Sonoma County Puts to Work for You

In addition to competitive starting pay, expansive opportunities for growth and development, being part of a challenging and rewarding work environment that offers continuous training and education, and the satisfaction of knowing that you are working to better the communities of our region, you can look forward to some excellent benefits*, including:

  • An annual Staff Development/Wellness Benefit allowance up to $1,700 and ongoing education/training opportunities
  • Competitive vacation and sick leave accruals, 12 paid holidays, and an additional 8 floating holiday hours per year
  • Significant portion of health care premiums paid by the County and access to several health plan options
  • County contribution to a Health Reimbursement Arrangement to help fund post-retirement employee health insurance/benefits
  • Retirement fully integrated with Social Security
  • May be eligible for up to 8 weeks (320 hours) of Paid Parental Leave after 12 months of County employment
  • Eligibility for a salary increase after 1,040 hours (6 months when working full-time) for good work performance; eligibility for a salary increase for good performance every year thereafter, until reaching the top of the salary range
  • Salary is negotiable within the established range. Benefits described herein do not represent a contract and may be changed without notice.

When you join the County of Sonoma, you’ll also have the freedom to explore the beauty of our county; with its picturesque coastline, majestic redwoods, historic towns, fine dining, award winning wineries, and a wide variety of entertainment and cultural activities. For additional information about the community, please visit and

About the Position

Assigned to the Land Use Practice Group, the duties of the position may include advising code enforcement officers and litigating code enforcement actions; serving as a legal advisor to County departments, boards, and commissions involved in land use matters, including advising staff and decision makers on local, state, and federal laws pertinent to processing and action on private land use entitlements; advising on development and implementation of long range planning initiatives, including specific plans and update of the general plan; attending meetings of boards and commissions; drafting legislation, ordinances, resolutions, contracts, and other legal documents; advising on core government laws including the Brown Act, Public Records Act, and Political Reform Act; serving as a resource for or in assistance to the County Counsel, Assistant County Counsel, or other practice groups in need of consultation with land use counsel; and defending actions against the County and its subdivisions.

Sonoma County’s current land use matters of significant public interest include those related to building community resiliency and disaster preparedness, hazard mitigation planning, environmental justice, affordable housing, update of the General Plan, specific plans for Sonoma Development Center, Airport, and Springs Area, Local Coastal Plan update, Commercial Cannabis Ordinance update, winery and special event policy development, tree protection ordinance, Zoning Code modernization project, and major subdivisions and several complex private projects seeking entitlements.

The County is interested in candidates with a basic understanding of and demonstrated interest in land use law, including, for example, one or more of the following: the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), local implementation of State Planning and Zoning Law, Cannabis regulation, Affordable housing laws, as well as other land use and environmental laws such as the Subdivision Map Act, Clean Water Act, Endangered Species Act, and Williamson Act. Basic understanding of federal Indian law is also desirable. Land Use attorneys work closely with the Board of Supervisors, Planning Commission, and staff to review public and private development projects. They may also be responsible for defending the County’s land use decisions and enforcing the County Code in state and federal court.

The Ideal Candidate Will Possess:

  • A commitment to ethical standards, elimination of bias, and professional responsibility
  • Subject matter familiarity and interest in land use law, including private project review, CEQA compliance, code enforcement, housing law and finance, and/or the drafting and interpretation of land use ordinances, plans, and policies, gained through any combination of law school course work, private firm, public agency, clerkship, fellowship, volunteer or pro bono work
  • Strong interest in land use litigation, including code enforcement
  • Strong research, writing, and communication skills
  • The proven ability to creatively solve problems
  • The ability to work effectively, both as part of a team and independently
  • A commitment to learning and professional growth
  • Initiative, strong achievement drive, and high achievement standards

Important information regarding Provisional Licensure – The minimum qualifications for this position require active membership in the State Bar of California. In order to meet the minimum qualifications for this position, applicants must, either have an active Bar number, or an active Provisional License (PL) Bar number by the final filing deadline of this recruitment. Individuals who are pursuing, but have not been granted, a Provisional License (PL) Bar number, by the final filing deadline, will not be determined to meet the minimum qualifications.

The Office of County Counsel

The Sonoma County Counsel’s Office is committed to providing the highest quality legal representation and advice, in a timely and responsive manner, to assist the County, its governing Board of Supervisors, and other clients. The Office works to promote the public interest, achieve programmatic and strategic goals, and protect financial resources.

County Counsel is the primary provider of legal services to the Board of Supervisors, County departments, the Grand Jury, and over 25 special districts, including Sonoma County Agricultural Preservation and Open Space District, Sonoma County Water Agency (SCWA), Sonoma County Employees’ Retirement Association (SCERA), Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO), and the Sonoma County Transportation Authority (SCTA). The Office provides legal staff to many County commissions, and its attorneys regularly provide counsel to the Board of Supervisors, Planning Commission, Civil Service Commission, and Board of Zoning Adjustments at public meetings and hearings. In addition to providing daily advice on issues such as contract compliance, employment conditions, public works, and land use planning, County Counsel attorneys regularly appear in court on behalf of County departments on such matters as juvenile dependency cases, code enforcement actions, bail recovery, and mental health competency hearings. County Counsel either directly handles or coordinates outside counsel in the defense of all claims filed against the County, and proactively works with departments to minimize risk and assist in policy development and implementation.

The Office of approximately 30 attorneys and 10 support staff places a high value on its collegial atmosphere and commitment to providing excellent legal services. It is structured into four practice groups: Health and Human Services; Infrastructure and Public Resources; Land Use; and Litigation. Each group is supervised by a Chief Deputy County Counsel I and overall office supervision functions through the Assistant County Counsel and County Counsel. All staff is relied upon to work independently, meet client needs, and exercise sound judgment.

This employment list may also be used to fill future full-time, part-time, or extra-help (temporary) positions as they occur during the active status of the list. Qualified County employees who wish to be considered for future positions should consider applying to this recruitment. The Civil Service title for this position is Deputy County Counsel I.



Minimum Qualifications


Experience: None required.

Professional License: Current active membership in the State Bar of California.

License: Possession of a valid driver’s license at the appropriate level including special endorsements, as required by the State of California, may be required depending upon assignment to perform the essential job functions of the position.


Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities


Knowledge of: written and oral communication, including language mechanics, syntax and English composition; the principles and application of civil and administration law; legal research methods; the duties, powers, limitations and authorities of the Office of the County Counsel; trial and hearing procedures and rules of evidence; the statutory and constitutional laws of the State of California.

Ability to: research, analyze and apply legal principles, facts, evidence and precedents to legal problems; prepare, present and conduct cases of law in court; present statements of law, fact and argument clearly and logically in written and oral form; develop and maintain effective relationships with other staff members, departmental representatives, county officials, members of advisory and policy-making bodies, the courts and the public; analyze and draft ordinances and other regulations.


Selection Procedure & Some Helpful Tips When Applying


  • Your application information and your responses to the supplemental questions are evaluated and taken into consideration throughout the entire selection process.
  • You should list all employers and positions held within the last ten years in the work history section of your application. Be as thorough as possible when responding to the supplemental questions.
  • You may include history beyond ten years if related to the position for which you are applying. If you held multiple positions with one employer, list out each position separately.
  • Failure to follow these instructions may impact your competitiveness in this process or may result in disqualification.

Please visit Getting a Job with the County of Sonoma to review more detailed information about the application, examination, and department selection processes.

Responses to supplemental questions will be scored using position-specific criteria. Please provide specific and detailed responses of a reasonable length to allow for thorough assessment of your qualifications. Responses which state “See Resume” or “See Application” may be considered insufficient and therefore may not be scored.

The selection procedure will consist of the following examination:

An Application & Supplemental Questionnaire Appraisal Examination (weight 100%) will be conducted to evaluate each applicant’s application and supplemental questionnaire for satisfaction of minimum qualifications (pass/not pass); and for educational coursework, training, experience, knowledge, and abilities which relate to this position. Each applicant will be evaluated based on the following criteria:

  • Relevance of work history, related experience, and achieved level of education and/or training as described in the application and responses to the supplemental questions.

Candidates demonstrating possession of the minimum qualifications will be placed on an employment list in order of most qualified to least qualified based on the achieved score received in the Application & Supplemental Questionnaire Appraisal Examination. Scores may be adjusted based on such factors as number of candidates, anticipated vacancies, past practice, and natural breaks in the scores achieved by this group of candidates.


A background investigation is required prior to employment. Candidates referred to departments for a selection interview are typically required to sign authorization and release forms enabling such an investigation. Failure to sign prescribed forms will result in the candidate not being considered further for that vacancy. Reference information will not be made available to applicants.

Additional requirements, such as successful completion of a physical exam, drug screen, etc., may apply, depending on the duties and responsibilities of the position. If you receive a conditional job offer for the position, the requirements upon which the offer are contingent will be outlined in the conditional job letter. You may also review the Job Classification Screening Schedule to determine the requirements for this position.


Applications are accepted on-line at: Paper applications may be submitted by person, fax (707-565-3770), email, or through the mail. All applications and appropriate supplemental information as outlined in the job bulletin must be RECEIVED by the time and date specified on the first page of this job announcement. Applications received after the recruitment closes will not be accepted.

The County of Sonoma prioritizes and is committed to continuously providing a workplace where equal employment opportunity is afforded to all people. Please view the County’s Equal Employment Opportunity Policy for further information.

HR Analyst: DTS
HR Technician: RR

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