THE CIVIL DIVISION
The Civil Division consists of the Civil Liability Branch and the Municipal Counsel Branch.
CIVIL LIABILITY BRANCH
The Civil Liability Branch aggressively defends the City’s interest in claims and lawsuits. The Branch also provides proactive advice to City departments that reduces the risks that often result in claims. The Branch handles civil litigation, workers’ compensation, collections and risk management.
- Attorneys in the Branch’s Civil Litigation Section are expert litigators who defend the City in General Civil Litigation, Police Litigation, and Police Employment matters in state, federal and appellate courts. They also bring lawsuits on behalf of the City to recover costs from third parties responsible for injuries to City employees or property.
- The General Counsel to the Police Department Section provides full service legal advice and representation to the Los Angeles Police Department and the Los Angeles Police Commission.
- The Business and Complex Litigation Section handles complex construction claims, contract disputes and certain labor matters growing out of the operations of the City’s service departments such as The Department of Public Works and The Department of Parks and Recreation.
- The Workers’ Compensation Section defends workers’ compensation lawsuits, investigates fraud and advises City departments on claims avoidance.
- The Risk Management Section works with all other sections in the Office of the City Attorney to develop, recommend and help City departments implement measures that manage risks and reduce the amount of the City’s liabilities.
- The Civil Litigation Appellate section handles all appellate work for the Civil Liability and Police Litigation sections. The majority of the practice is in the U.S. Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit, with the remainder in the California Court of Appeal, and, occasionally, in the United States and California Supreme Courts. The section’s three attorneys, combined, have more than 100 published opinions, which have left a large imprint in the field of civil rights, constitutional and government tort liability law. The section also works closely with the trial attorneys assisting with research, jury instruction and verdict form issues, and summary judgment and post-trial motions.
MUNICIPAL COUNSEL BRANCH
The Municipal Branch of the City Attorney's Office serves as the general counsel to all City departments, offices, elected officials and commissions as well as to the Community Redevelopment Agency and the Housing Authority. The attorneys in this branch give written and oral advice, draft ordinances, negotiate and draft transactional documents and litigate matters within their areas of expertise.
- Attorneys in The Retirement Benefits Section provide legal advice and representation to the City of Los Angeles' pension and retirement funds: the Fire and Police Pension Plan, the Los Angeles City Employees' Retirement System (LACERS), and the Water and Power Employees' Retirement Plan.
- Attorneys in the General Counsel Section serve as legal counsel to the various City officers and departments not specifically represented by one of the other Municipal Counsel sections, including the Departments of Aging, Convention Center, Cultural Affairs, Disability, Fire, General Services (Purchasing Division), Information & Technology, Library, Neighborhood Empowerment, Public Works, Recreation & Parks, Transportation, and the Ethics Commission the Los Angeles Zoo and El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historic Monument Authority. In addition to advising these departments and their commissions, the section's attorneys also advise the Council committees having subject matter jurisdiction over the work of those departments. The section also prepares and reviews contracts for other City departments, including the Fire Department, LAPD, Building and Safety, and Planning and Personnel, and represents the City's interests in public utility matters regulated by the California Public Utilities Commission. Additionally, the General Counsel Section provides one of the first municipal Intellectual Property practices in North America, specialized in Intellectual Property and Antitrust laws, including patent, copyright, trademark and entertainment laws.
In addition to providing legal advice, the attorneys review, edit, draft, and negotiate contracts and other transactional documents, draft ordinances, opinions and memorandum and handle some litigation, primarily writs, law and motion, appellate and other short cause matters in both federal and state court.
- Attorneys in the General Counsel Section who are assigned to the Department of Airports provide general legal counsel to the City of Los Angeles Department of Airports and Board of Airport Commissioners. The City of Los Angeles owns and operates four airports, collectively known as Los Angeles World Airports: Los Angeles International Airport (LAX); Ontario International Airport (ONT); Van Nuys Airport (VNY); and Palmdale Airport (PMD). Section attorneys are assisting with the Master Plans for all four airports, including the land use and environmental issues. The General Counsel to the Department of Airports Section provides legal advice on all matters related to the operation and management of the four airports. This entails handling a wide range of matters, including direct and inverse condemnation, nuisance, bankruptcy, tenant disputes, exercise of First Amendment rights, contracts, noise regulations, federal regulations, labor law, police matters arising from the Airport Police Department, and environmental law. The attorneys also represent the Department in lawsuits pending in state and federal courts and before various administrative bodies such as the Civil Services Commission, the California Public Utilities Commission and the U.S. and California Departments of Transportation.
- The General Counsel to the Los Angeles Harbor Department provides general legal counsel to the Port of Los Angeles and the Alameda Corridor Transportation Authority. The Harbor Section attorneys draft and approve all Harbor Department leases and contracts, specifications for Harbor Department projects, including construction projects and all real property transactions, including all permits issued by the Department. In addition, the attorneys advise the Department and Commission on all property management, marketing, international trade requirements, maritime commerce, fishing industry, environmental, railroad operating and other matters related to maritime law. They also represent the Department in litigation involving contract disputes, environmental matters, police cases generated by the Port Police and various maritime and shipping disputes.
- The General Counsel to the Department of Water and Power (LADWP) Division provides general legal counsel to assist the LADWP in successfully operating the largest municipal utility in the nation. The Section attorneys frequently appear before State and Federal Courts, as well as the California Air Resources Board and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. LADWP attorneys address a broad range of legal issues, including groundwater pumping and water rights, water and power rates, and the sale and purchase of generating facilities.
- The Government Counsel Section provides general legal counsel and representation to the Mayor's Office, the City Council, its members and committees, the Chief Legislative Analyst's Office, the City Clerk, and the Ethics Commission. The attorneys in this section draft motions, ordinances, opinions and advice letters. They work closely with our City's elected officials and offices and provide legal guidance on all matters of municipal concern, including ordinances, ethics, elections, open meetings laws and legislative procedures.
- The Labor Relations Section provides legal advice and representation to the Mayor, City Council, City boards, commissions and departments on all aspects of labor and employment law involving the City of Los Angeles. The labor issues they address include: employment discrimination on the basis of race, sex, age, national origin, religion and sexual harassment; labor negotiations; grievances; labor arbitration; OSHA compliance; threat management; and civil service.
The mission of the Labor Relations Section is to defend the City with integrity and professionalism, and to advise management in all aspects of labor and employment matters. Labor Relations attorneys strive to provide consistent and pragmatic advice in order to provide City managers with the tools to make informed choices in labor-related matters. Section attorneys interpret and apply a variety of federal and state laws, as well as the City's labor and employment policies and directives.
- The Neighborhood Council Advice Section provides proactive legal advice and assists the Department of Neighborhood Empowerment, its Commission, and neighborhood councils in achieving their goals.
The Neighborhood Council Advice attorneys provide legal advice and legal representation on matters such as the Brown Act, conflict of interest laws, liability issues, contracts, City Charter and relevant legislation. The section attorneys work closely with the Commission and members of the community to assist with the certification of neighborhood councils and provide advice regarding the formation of prospective councils.
- The Real Estate and Economic Development Practice Group is dedicated to assisting in creating economic development opportunities in the City. The Real Estate and Economic Development Practice Group works toward this effort by combining the expertise in four associated divisions:
1. Public Finance Division: expertise in bond and other public financing in the City.
2. Real Property and Environment Division: expertise in all property transactions and environmental protection requirements in the City.
3. Land Use Division: expertise in land use regulation in the City.
4. Economic Development and Housing Division: expertise in grant funded programs for activities such as affordable housing, economic development, job training and development, child care and legal services, gang prevention, community facilities and homeless.
- The Municipal Counsel Appellate Section oversees all appeals and writs arising out of the Municipal Counsel Branch. The section represents the City as amicus curiae in cases concerned with developing or problematic areas of law with potential impact on the City. In addition, the section conducts moot courts and serves as a resource for other Municipal Counsel Sections of the City Attorney's Office.