Government2019-10-14T15:37:55-08:00

Government

BROAD EXPERIENCE SERVING AS CHIEF LEGAL ADVISORS TO PUBLIC AGENCIES

Collectively, we have decades of experience and a proven track record serving as chief legal advisors for a variety of agencies. Our lawyers include:

  • The Town Attorney of Corte Madera
  • Former City Attorneys of San Francisco, Richmond, Santa Rosa and Los Gatos
  • San Francisco’s former Chief Deputy City Attorney and Chief Assistant City Attorney, and numerous former General Counsel for a wide range of San Francisco departments
  • The District Counsel for Moraga Orinda Fire District and Sanitary District Number 2 of Marin County
  • The General Counsel for The East Cut Community Benefit District
  • Former General Counsel for Kensington Police Protection and Community Services District, San Francisco Local Agency Formation Commission and San Francisco Unified School District
  • A former Chief Counsel for the Secretary of State

Relying on our broad experience in this area, we take a solution-oriented approach to providing public agencies, and nonprofits that manage public funds, with legal advice that recognizes the realities public officials face. Our goal is to provide practical and creative legal solutions that provide policy makers with options for achieving their policy goals while minimizing legal risk.

LEGAL SERVICES TAILORED TO MEET THE UNIQUE NEEDS OF PUBLIC AGENCIES

We provide ongoing and interim city attorney and general counsel services for local governments seeking to have those services provided by a law firm.

For public agencies with “in-house” legal counsel, we offer specialized legal services as needed on complex, discrete government law issues that arise from time-to-time. We frequently provide in-house city attorneys, county counsel and general counsel with independent legal analyses, legal opinion letters and risk assessments of complex constitutional or statutory questions.

Whether we act as a local government’s chief legal advisor or special counsel, our general government advice services include:

  • Charter amendments, ballot measures, ordinances, resolutions, and other legislative efforts
  • Brown Act, Public Records Act, sunshine legislation and other laws governing local government decision-making and operations
  • Complex and sensitive conflict of interest questions and related ethics issues
  • Land use, planning, CEQA, development issues
  • Complex statutory and constitutional questions, including First Amendment, Equal Protection, Due Process, Fourth Amendment and privacy issues
  • Elections matters, including initiative, referendum and recall petitions
  • State legislative processes
  • Administrative processes
  • Multi-agency agreements
  • Public contracting
  • Real property transactions and annexations
  • Employment advice, personnel actions and investigations
  • Labor relations and labor negotiation services
  • Project Labor Agreements
  • Litigation on all of the above issues

ETHICS ADVICE, TRAINING AND REPRESENTATION

Our attorneys have extensive experience in guiding public officials through the labyrinth of ethics laws governing their conduct and include a current member and a former Chair of the Fair Political Practices Commission Committee of the League of California Cities, and a former General Counsel to the San Francisco Ethics Commission.

We offer proactive ethics advice and training on state and local ethics laws, including:

  • Conflicts of interest rules under the Political Reform Act, Government Code section 1090, and common law principles
  • Restrictions on gifts to public officials
  • Restrictions on use of public resources and mass mailings
  • Fair process requirements that apply in quasi-judicial proceedings
  • Campaign finance rules under state and local law

We also advise and represent public officials on specific allegations or charges before the California Fair Political Practices Commission.

DEFENDING LOCAL GOVERNMENTS

Our attorneys represent agencies and officials in federal and state court challenges to their decisions and policies. We have successfully defended public agencies against constitutional challenges to a wide range of charter provisions, ordinances and policies, as well as challenges to administrative agency decisions. We have prevailed on claims alleging violations of open meeting and public records laws, and also represent public agencies in civil litigation arising from relationships with the state and federal governments.  Our approach is to zealously defend the ability of public officials to aggressively pursue their policy goals and preserve the right of local governments experiment with new programs.  Finally, we are skilled negotiators who can assist local agencies in resolving disputes with other parties where that approach is in the best interest of the agency.

PROJECT LABOR AGREEMENTS

We also have a proven track record in negotiating Project Labor Agreements (PLAs) with building and construction trade councils and their affiliated unions, having drafted and negotiated agreements covering more than $10 billion in project work.

PLAs, also known as Community Workforce Agreements, are pre-hire collective bargaining agreements with labor organizations that establish the terms and conditions of employment for major public works projects.  For those considering agreeing to PLAs, we provide a balanced view of the pros and cons, and a menu of policy goals for policymakers to consider.  Where we negotiate a PLA, we focus both on ensuring it is as economically efficient as possible and provides tangible benefits to the community.  Finally, we are available to provide PLA administration services.

We also provide assistance on related issues such as card check neutrality agreements, labor peace agreements, and issues pertaining to federal preemption of local efforts in the labor realm.