Senior Legal Counsel

  • San Diego Association of Governments - SANDAG
  • San Diego, CA, USA
Full Time Legal

Job Description

Salary Range: $109,347 to $169,488/year

First Review of Applications: May 19, 2021 – Open until filled

Expected Start Date: June 2021


As a member of the four person Office of General Counsel, the Senior Legal Counsel will serve as a technical resource to agency executives and project managers and will support various programs, projects, and services by conducting research and preparing resolutions, memoranda, opinions, and other legal documents, providing legal guidance related to agency contracting and procurement processes, assisting with litigation, overseeing the work of outside counsel, providing legal guidance and opinions to various committees and working groups, and providing assistance to the General Counsel. Examples of key projects include: 2021 Regional Plan Update; SR-11/Otay Mesa East Border Crossing; Central Mobility Hub; Mid-Coast; Bus Stopover Facility; Right of Way assistance on bike and LOSSAN projects.

This is a Limited-Term employment opportunity. Based on the funding and long-term nature of the projects assigned to this role, SANDAG expects this position to be funded at least through June 2024. Limited-Term employees are considered to be “at-will” and receive many of the benefits of Regular employees.

Overview of the Office of General Counsel

Working in close collaboration with the SANDAG Board of Directors, members of the Executive Office, and employees throughout the organization, the Office of General Counsel has a reputation for providing outstanding legal advice and partnering on projects and initiatives that contribute to the overall success of the agency. SANDAG functions in a complex environment and the Legal team is known for being innovative and proactive in facilitating decisions that support achievement of the agency’s goals.

Job Responsibilities

  • Provide legal guidance on public agency contracting and procurement processes ensuring contracts and agreements are consistent with federal, state, and/or local funding agency requirements and are written in a manner that protects the interests of SANDAG.
  • Participate in the review and final approval of contracts, agreements, amendments, Memoranda of Understanding, task orders, and leases; provide advice to employees regarding pre-bid qualifications and bid protests.
  • Analyze, review, and draft contracts, agreements, real property documents, releases, and other legal documents that bind or obligate SANDAG; provide legal opinions and recommendations to ensure SANDAG is properly and effectively represented; review rules, regulations, and policies to ensure legal compliance with all applicable state and federal laws.
  • Participate in negotiating / reviewing third party agreements on high priority projects.
  • Assist in the development and review of language regarding insurance and indemnification in agency contracts; review insurance certificates for adequacy and recommend levels of exposure to insure.
  • Assist in representing SANDAG in legal proceedings before courts, administrative agencies and boards, arbitrators, and other administrative agencies; negotiate, defend, or settle legal disputes; assist with conducting legal research, preparing pleadings, briefs, motions, court orders, and other court documents; appear in court, and negotiate with other parties; coordinate the agency’s representation by outside counsel in proceedings.
  • Assist with litigation involving construction claims, stop payment notices, false claims, performance bonds, payment bonds, and mechanic's lien claims pursuant to the public works construction law; oversee any outside counsel hired to represent the agency in such matters.
  • Assist in the management of right-of-way acquisition for SANDAG projects, generally in coordination with outside counsel; present updates to SANDAG management and the Board of Directors.
  • Respond to and defend SANDAG against consultant/contractor protests and claims under the Tort Claims Act.

Experience and Qualifications

The minimum education, training, and experience qualifications include a Juris Doctorate from an accredited law school and a minimum of five years of professional legal experience as an attorney focusing on municipal or other governmental law. Status as a member in good standing of the State Bar of California is required.

  • Demonstrated knowledge of legal principles, practices, and procedures relating to administrative, contract, insurance, real property, transportation, land use, environmental, and construction matters particularly as applied to public agencies; knowledge of specific laws relevant to California local government agencies including the California Government Code, Public Records Act, and the Political Reform Act.
  • Knowledge and demonstrated ability to interpret and apply federal, state, and local laws, codes, policies, and regulations pertaining to municipal finance, parliamentary procedures, and other legal proceedings.
  • Knowledge and experience with standard public agency methodologies and strategies used in the competitive procurement of products and professional services, including experience with protests; demonstrated knowledge and experience with rules, regulations, and laws related to public agency contracts including the California Public Contract Code.
  • Experience with specific laws relevant to California local government agencies in order to address federal and state regulations, dealing primarily with transportation and transit related issues; specific experience working with statutes applicable to the Federal Transit Administration (FTA), Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), and the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) is highly desirable.
  • Experience with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).
  • Experience with public works construction law including various project delivery methods and their relevant procurement principles.
  • Experience working with local elected officials and supporting public boards, committees, and/or working groups by providing legal advice and ensuring compliance with the Robert’s Rules of Order and the Brown Act is desirable.
  • Knowledge of the California Tort Claims Act as well as experience in construction execution and litigation is highly desirable.
  • Experience analyzing legal issues and applying relevant legal principles and practices; ability to evaluate alternatives and recommend an effective course of action.
  • Ability to prepare a variety of legal documents, comprehensive reports, and correspondence; ability to prepare and present legal information in a clear and concise manner, both orally and in writing; ability to make effective and persuasive legal arguments.
  • Demonstrated ability to exercise good judgment and make sound decisions on legal casework and in dealing with people; ability to work effectively with outside Counsel and employees in a sensitive and diplomatic manner.
  • Experience with litigation and other legal proceedings and the ability to review, strategize, and oversee outside counsel on the agency’s legal matters. Experience preparing and reviewing privacy policies associated with the use of technology.

Benefits and Salary

Our benefits include health, dental, and vision insurance as well as employee assistance, wellness, and work/life balance programs. Retirement and financial security benefits are provided through a pension plan and deferred compensation program. SANDAG offers flexible work schedules and employees are provided with paid time off and paid holidays.

The salary will depend on the qualifications and experience of the selected candidate. The annual salary range for this position is $109,347 to $169,488/year.

Careers at SANDAG

A job at SANDAG is guaranteed to engage your mind, expand your skills, and enhance your professional development. We are committed to hiring talented individuals who are dedicated to working on important issues and enthusiastic about making significant contributions that improve the lives of people in the San Diego region.


How to Apply

We encourage interested candidates to apply for this position by completing a SANDAG Employment Application. Resumes, cover letters, and work samples may be submitted but are not a substitute for the Application.

The Employment Application can be downloaded from the SANDAG website or requested by emailing or calling (619) 699-1900. Completed applications can be submitted via email, fax, regular mail, or delivered by hand. See our Careers / How to Apply webpage for additional information.

In compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), SANDAG will accommodate persons who require assistance in order to apply for a position at SANDAG. Applicants requiring an accommodation due to a disability during any stage of the recruitment and selection process, including requesting this document and related application materials in an alternative format, should make their needs known by contacting Human Resources at, (619) 699-1900, (619) 699-1904 (TTY), or fax (619) 699-6905.

Further Information

In compliance with the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986, applicants hired by SANDAG must show acceptable proof of identity and evidence of authorization to work in the United States.

The selected candidate can anticipate a driving record check upon hire, and approximately annually thereafter. The results of the check may determine whether the selected candidate will be permitted to drive for SANDAG business.


SANDAG is an Equal Opportunity Employer



Education Requirements



$109,347 to $169,488/year