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Career Opportunity

Chief Trial Attorney - Trial/Litigation Team - City Attorney's Office (8181)

Recruitment: RTF0137693-01069287

Published: August 23, 2023


Nikki Chew -

Apply using SmartRecruiters, the City and County of San Francisco's application portal Learn More

Department: City Attorney
Job class: 8181-Assistant Chief Attorney I
Salary range: $240,474.00 - $292,318.00
Role type: Permanent Exempt What does this mean?
Hours: Full-time


Permanent Exempt

Permanent exempt (PEX) position; individuals who are appointed to Exempt Positions are appointed at the pleasure of their appointing officer and are considered to be "at-will".

Application Opening: August 15, 2023

Application Deadline: Continuous, earliest close 5:00 p.m. September 12, 2023

Compensation Range: $231,140- $280,982

A higher compensation may be available based on truly exceptional experience and qualifications.

Recruitment ID: RTF0137693-01069287

About the Office: The San Francisco City Attorney’s Office (Office) is an innovative, nationally-recognized municipal law office working to protect and advance the rights and interests of the City and County of San Francisco and its residents. With over 300 talented, dedicated, and diverse employees, the Office provides exceptional legal services to the City’s Mayor, Board of Supervisors, officials, and departments. Our work empowers the City’s public servants with effective, responsive, and creative legal solutions and representation so they can deliver critical public services and our affirmative advocacy enhances the lives and wellbeing of San Francisco’s residents and visitors.

The Office recognizes that diversity in the backgrounds, identities, ideas, and lived experiences of our employees enriches our workplace and enhances our work. We aspire to recruit, employ, retain, and promote talented individuals representing the full spectrum of our community, and welcome all candidates, including candidates of any race, religion, national origin, gender, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, and age, and candidates with disabilities. We have a clear vision: to be the place where a diverse mix of people want to come and stay, grow professionally, and find purpose and engagement, and where all employees feel welcomed and respected for their full authentic selves, and valued for their work and contributions to the Office and the City. To learn more about the Office’s efforts to provide an inclusive workplace where employees feel they belong and can meaningfully contribute, please click here.

The Office offers a hybrid remote work schedule for eligible employees, with three days onsite and up to two days remote.

To learn more about the City Attorney’s Office please visit:

Role description

About the Litigation Team

The Litigation Team is a collaborative, nimble, and dynamic group of 24 attorneys, seven paralegals and legal assistants, and eight legal secretaries. Primarily, the team defends lawsuits filed against the City and County of San Francisco and its employees in state and federal court, handling all phases of litigation, from case intake and assessment, litigation strategy, discovery and document review, motion practice, settlement evaluation and negotiation, trial, and appeal. The team’s docket is broad, with cases ranging from personal injury to taxation, land use to constitutional torts, and many of its cases attract significant public interest and attention. The team represents employees from all City departments and its work touches every aspect of City services, from streets, sidewalks, and transit, to law enforcement and public health. Team deputies may also handle affirmative matters, including workplace harassment or gun violence restraining orders. Team members work on cross-team assignments as needed, including helping City departments assess litigation risks or respond to third-party discovery and crisis situations.

The Chief Trial Deputy leads the team, with direct support from a deputy appointed as the Assistant Chief Trial Deputy. Under these leaders, the team has three experienced deputies in lead attorney assignments. These three “Trial Team Leads” oversee sub-teams of approximately six deputies. The lead attorneys help deputies manage their caseloads, assist with case management and strategy, provide feedback, and update the Chief Trial Deputy on team members’ workloads, recurring or significant litigation or performance issues, and legal skill building.

Chief Trial Deputy Position and Responsibilities

The Chief Trial Deputy is responsible for overall leadership and management of the Litigation Team. This individual must inspire and motivate team members, build members’ confidence and skills through appropriate and timely feedback, and foster a culture of comradery with an inclusive, supportive, and collegial team environment. The Chief Trial Deputy must possess significant trial experience and strong writing, editing, and oral advocacy skills. The Chief Trial Deputy must effectively communicate team processes and individual case strategies internally to team members and Office leadership, and externally to City officials, boards, and commissions as well as members of the state and federal bench. As team leader, the Chief Trial Deputy must demonstrate the highest professional and ethical standards, excellent judgment, a positive can-do attitude, and a creative problem-solving approach. Strong organizational skills are essential in this role, including attention to detail and an ability to track and maintain multiple workstreams. The Chief Trial Deputy must gather and distill necessary information and make decisions quickly and confidently, but also inclusively, and be comfortable taking deliberate and responsible risks where warranted. The Chief Trial Deputy assigns and monitors cases, approves expert engagements, identifies cases for early resolution or trial, approves settlement and hearing reports, briefs City departments and officials on significant cases, reviews and edits dispositive filings in significant cases, reviews and edits appellate briefs, conducts twice yearly case reviews, supervises professional staff, and updates and approves team policies and procedures. The Chief Trial Deputy oversees team recruitments and hiring recommendations for all open positions on the team, oversees team trainings and performance evaluation, and manages the team’s administrative matters, including outside counsel selection, engagement, and contracting. 

The Chief Trial Deputy meets regularly with the City Attorney and Chief Deputy City Attorney on the team’s cases, provides regular briefings on significant matters, and obtains the necessary litigation authority in those matters. This individual must be able to appropriately value litigation matters, recommend reasoned settlements or proceeding to trial to the City Attorney and Chief Deputy City Attorney, and identify litigation patterns and recommend risk mitigation measures to departments to reduce liability. The Chief Trial Deputy also works with deputies across the Office to ensure consistent communications with individual clients, client departments, and other City officials.

How to qualify

Minimum Qualifications

  • 10 years of progressively responsible experience as a practicing attorney, with emphasis on jury trial and courtroom work and 
  • Licensed to practice law in California.

Desired Qualifications

  • At least 10 years of civil litigation experience in state and federal court
  • Substantial civil trial experience in both state and federal court, through verdict
  • At least three civil cases tried to verdict
  • Experience litigating class actions and cases involving injunctive relief
  • Strong research, writing, and editing skills
  • Strong oral advocacy and presentation skills
  • Strong critical thinking and decision-making skills, including the ability to think deeply, anticipate unintended consequences, and think through the cascading effects of policies and actions
  • Practical, creative, curious
  • Exhibits excellent judgment
  • Diplomatic and tactful
  • Humble and empathetic
  • Committed to valuing diversity and contributing to an inclusive working and learning environment
  • Possess leadership and management experience, including experience managing litigation and investigation teams and employee performance management
  • Ability to effectively manage relationships with team members, peers, and supervisors, including the ability to collaborate, delegate, and motivate others 
  • Ability to effectively provide clear and concise guidance and direction
  • Ability to deliver constructive feedback and follow up as needed, mentor and guide career development of all team members, including professional staff
  • Ability and willingness to seek and incorporate constructive feedback
  • Self-aware and committed to ongoing personal learning and growth
  • Adaptable, open to new ideas and strategies, receptive to change, resilient


Applicants may be required to submit verification of qualifying education and experience at any point during the recruitment and selection process. If education verification is required, information on how to verify education requirements, including verifying foreign education credits or degree equivalency, can be found at

Note: Falsifying one’s education, training, or work experience or attempted deception on the application may result in disqualification for this and future job opportunities with the City and County of San Francisco.

All work experience, education, training and other information substantiating how you meet the minimum qualifications must be included on your application by the filing deadline. Information submitted after the filing deadline will not be considered in determining whether you meet the minimum qualifications.

Resumes will not be accepted in lieu of a completed City and County of San Francisco application.

Applications completed improperly may be cause for ineligibility, disqualification or may lead to lower scores.

Selection Procedures

The selection process will include evaluation of applications in relation to minimum requirements. Applicants meeting the minimum qualifications are not guaranteed advancement to the interview. Depending on the number of applicants, the Department may establish and implement additional screening mechanisms to comparatively evaluate the qualifications of candidates. If this becomes necessary, only those applicants whose qualifications most closely meet the needs of the Department will be invited to participate in the next stage of the selection process. The stated desirable qualifications may be considered at the end of the selection process when candidates are referred for hiring. To apply for this position, please submit your resume and cover letter explaining your qualifications and interest in this position. Applicants who advance in the selection process must submit three references and two writing samples.

What else should I know?

Additional Information Regarding Employment with the City and County of San Francisco: 


Applications for City and County of San Francisco jobs are only accepted through an online process. Visit and begin the application process.

  • Select the “Apply Now” button and follow instructions on the screen

Applicants may be contacted by email about this recruitment and, therefore, it is their responsibility to ensure that their registered email address is accurate and kept up-to-date. Also, applicants must ensure that email from CCSF is not blocked on their computer by a spam filter. To prevent blocking, applicants should set up their email to accept CCSF mail from the following addresses (,,,,,,,,,,,,,, and

Applicants will receive a confirmation email that their online application has been received in response to every announcement for which they file. Applicants should retain this confirmation email for their records. Failure to receive this email means that the online application was not submitted or received.

Human Resources Analyst Information: If you have any questions regarding this recruitment or application process, please send your inquires to Nikki Chew, Sr. HR Analyst at 

The City and County of San Francisco encourages women, minorities and persons with disabilities to apply. Applicants will be considered regardless of their sex, race, age, religion, color, national origin, ancestry, physical disability, mental disability, medical condition (associated with cancer, a history of cancer, or genetic characteristics), HIV/AIDS status, genetic information, marital status, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, gender expression, military and veteran status, or other protected category under the law.