County of Alameda

Dependency Attorney (#3105)

Bargaining Unit: PD Attorneys (069)
$83.95-$101.92 Hourly / $6,716.00-$8,153.60 BiWeekly /
$14,551.33-$17,666.13 Monthly / $174,616.00-$211,993.60 Yearly

Under the direction of the Public Defender, Dependency Attorneys represent children and parents in Dependency proceedings pursuant to Welfare & Institutions Code §300, as appointed or accepted by the Public Defender. Dependency Attorneys perform a variety of specialized legal practice functions, including some combination of the following: Law and motion court appearances, including writs in the Court of Appeal; independent legal research and writing; law library and legal database management; performance of support tasks requiring special knowledge and training; client and witness interviews; performance of other legal practice tasks and all related work which does not involve trial litigation of criminal cases, as directed and authorized by the Public Defender.


The Dependency Attorney class is a specialized attorney class found only in the Public Defender's Department. Dependency Attorneys are expected to perform highly competent legal work, representing litigants in difficult civil proceedings. Dependency Attorneys are experienced litigation attorneys with a highly developed special expertise in handling specialized civil cases. Dependency Attorneys supervise Legal Assistants, Attorney Assistants, Support Attorneys, law clerks, and others directing and reviewing legal research, and, without supervision, perform independent legal research and legal writing on complex and difficult assignments. This class is a trial litigation classification and is distinguished from Deputy and Assistant Public Defenders in that Dependency Attorneys do not serve as trial counsel nor as attorney of record for Public Defender clients in criminal cases. This class is distinguished from Support Attorneys in that Dependency Attorneys may directly handle the most difficult and challenging dependency cases under Welfare & Institutions Code §300.

NOTE: The following are the duties performed by employees in this classification. However, employees may perform other related duties at an equivalent level. Each individual in the classification does not necessarily perform all duties listed.

1. On assignment of the Public Defender, represents clients in dependency matters under Welfare & Institutions Code §300.

2. Interviews new applicants for representation; makes preliminary determination of eligibility and evaluation of conflict; obtains relevant information from and about client; advises clients on legal rights, legal proceedings, and appropriate decisions regarding child placement.

3. Takes appropriate legal steps to best represent clients; advises clients on the proper course of action; represents clients at all phases of dependency proceedings; engages in client, lay witness, and expert witness contact.

4. Orders investigation of the case and subpoenas witnesses determined to be helpful to the case; analyzes facts in light of relevant legal considerations; conducts legal research; prepares litigation strategy; prepares legal memoranda, motions, and briefs and argues specific legal motions and pleadings; litigates evidentiary hearings; examines and cross-examines witnesses and challenges their qualifications; and argues their case.

5. Conducts contested and non-contested appearances, hearings and trials for parties in juvenile court proceedings, and, under the general direction of a Deputy or Assistant Public Defender, seeks appropriate appellate relief from decisions of the Juvenile Court by preparing and arguing writs and appeals in the Superior Court Appellate Department, Court of Appeal, and Supreme Court.

6. Visits home and other placements for children, evaluating and reporting on the same as required; corresponds and communicates with interested parties such as relatives, judges, and social services personnel with regard to placements, the status and legal rights of clients; and handles all legal steps needed to protect clients’ interests.

7. Assists ineligible applicants to secure private counsel by referring them to local bar association; referring persons with civil problems to legal aid society.

8. Under general direction, supervises Support Attorneys assigned to the Dependency unit.

9. Creates, maintains, manages a law library and legal database.

10. Appears before public and private groups to make presentations and answers questions on the functions of the Dependency Unit and the duties of the Public Defender's Office. Serves as liaison between the Public Defender's Department and individuals or organizations involved in or interested in juvenile court, the dependency practice and the administration of justice.

Active Member in good standing, State Bar of California.


Either I

The equivalent of two years of full-time experience in the class of Associate Dependency Attorney in the Alameda County classified service. (Non-classified includes District Attorney’s Office, Hospital Authority, and the Consolidated Courts.)


The equivalent of two years of full-time experience in the practice of dependency law and demonstrated competence in civil dependency practice, including substantial trial experience and writ experience. (Substantial trial experience is deemed to include the contested litigation of at least fifteen evidentiary hearings and the filing of at least two writs in the California Court of Appeal.)


A valid California Motor Vehicle Operator's License may be required.

NOTE: The Civil Service Commission may modify the above Minimum Qualifications in the announcement of an examination.

NOTE: The level and scope of the following knowledge and abilities are related to duties listed under the “Examples of Duties” section of this specification.

Knowledge of:

• Philosophy and practice of public defense.
• Laws, ethics, policies and procedures governing the Public Defender’s Office.
• Scope and character of California statutory and constitutional law, including California Penal Code, Welfare and Institutions Code, Code of Civil Procedure, Evidence Code, and related case law.
• Legal principles and procedures followed in the handling of dependency and juvenile cases, including rules of evidence, rules of court, trial litigation, and appellate procedure.
• Basic personal computer system.
• Research from published and electronic legal source materials.
• Principles of training and supervision.
• Terminology common to forensics, psychology, substance abuse, child development, family law, and juvenile law.
• Legal source materials.

Ability to:

• Perform legal research quickly and with initiative.
• Work effectively with colleagues and representatives of other agencies.
• Follow written and oral instructions.
• Prepare written legal arguments in a logical and concise manner.
• Legal research, including the interpretation of codes, statutes, procedures and forms.
• Summarize and evaluate complex documents and factual situations.
• Understand and apply legal principles to factual situations.
• Communicate effectively with clients, lay witnesses, expert witnesses, other lawyers and Judges.
• Analyze situations accurately and adopt an effective course of action.
• Elicit, analyze, and apply legal data and evidence.
• Perform in a stressful environment.
• Appropriate decision making.
• Interpersonal sensitivity and flexibility.
• Establish working relationships with clients of diverse racial, cultural, socio-economic and age backgrounds and inspire their confidence.
• Utilize advanced litigation techniques, preserving the trial record by making timely and appropriate objections and motions, with demonstrated facility in writ procedures.
• Present legal arguments clearly, logically, and effectively in oral and written form.
• Handle legal correspondence and procedures with tact and accuracy.
• Maintain records, logs, and case files and prepare reports.

Old document: 3105h
Revised 5/16/00
New document: Jobspecs/3105
CSC Date: 5/24/00


Alameda County offers a comprehensive and competitive benefits package that affords wide-ranging health care options to meet the different needs of a diverse workforce and their families. We also sponsor many different employee discount, fitness and health screening programs focused on overall well being.  These benefits include but are not limited to*:

For your Health & Well-Being

  • Medical – HMO & PPO Plans
  • Dental – HMO & PPO Plans
  • Vision or Vision Reimbursement
  • Share the Savings
  • Basic Life Insurance 
  • Supplemental Life Insurance (with optional dependent coverage for eligible employees)
  • Accidental Death and Dismemberment Insurance 
  • County Allowance Credit
  • Flexible Spending Accounts - Health FSA, Dependent Care and Adoption Assistance
  • Short-Term Disability Insurance
  • Long-Term Disability Insurance
  • Voluntary Benefits - Accident Insurance, Critical Illness, Hospital Indemnity and Legal Services
  • Employee Assistance Program

For your Financial Future

  • Retirement Plan - (Defined Benefit Pension Plan)
  • Deferred Compensation Plan (457 Plan or Roth Plan)

For your Work/Life Balance

  • 12 paid holidays
  • Floating Holidays
  • Vacation and sick leave accrual
  • Vacation purchase program
  • Management Paid Leave**
  • Catastrophic Sick Leave
  • Group Auto/Home Insurance
  • Pet Insurance
  • Commuter Benefits Program
  • Guaranteed Ride Home
  • Employee Wellness Program (e.g. At Work Fitness, Incentive Based Programs, Gym Membership Discounts)
  • Employee Discount Program (e.g. theme parks, cell phone, etc.)
  • Child Care Resources
  • 1st United Services Credit Union 

*Eligibility is determined by Alameda County and offerings may vary by collective bargaining agreement.  This provides a brief summary of the benefits offered and can be subject to change.

** Non-exempt management employees are entitled to up to three days of management paid leave. Exempt management employees are entitled to up to seven days of management paid leave.

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