The Oakland City Attorney Office: Law in Service of the Public Part I
Part of the Get to Know Your Local Community Organization Series
Ask yourself a simple question, what does the City Attorney do? If you are like me, that’s not an easy question to answer. If you are an Oakland resident or work in the city, there are many ways in which the Oakland City Attorney touches your experience in the city every day. On any given day, the Office may be working with the Oakland Police Department on policy and procedures, minimum wage enforcement or protecting immigrant rights.
Since 2011, Barbara J. Parker has served as the City Attorney of Oakland. She is the recipient of the 2015 Public Lawyer of the Year award from the State Bar of California. Parker is the first and only African American woman elected to citywide office in Oakland. As Oakland’s City Attorney, Parker has worked to improve public safety, to secure equal opportunity and justice for all Oaklanders, and to assure that City Hall operates in a transparent, honest and fair manner.
In broad terms, the Oakland City Attorney serves as legal counsel to the Mayor, City Council and City departments, boards and commissions in their official capacities. The office also: (1) provides advice and opinions regarding policies, programs and laws; (2) represents the City in legal proceedings and settlement negotiations; (3) drafts and approves legislation, contracts and other legal documents as to form and legality; (4) defends the City’s policies and laws; (5) upholds the City’s and its residents’ rights; and (6) initiates legal action to protect and promote the community’s health, welfare, quality of life and other interests.
The mission of the Oakland City Attorney is to provide the highest quality legal services, promote open government and accountability to the residents of Oakland in accordance with the letter and spirit of the law and apply the law in an innovative and community-oriented manner to improve the quality of life in Oakland. They accomplish this mission by constantly pursuing excellence, professionalism and a workforce that values and reflects the diversity of the Oakland community.
The Office currently has 42 attorneys and 33 support staff that are divided into four departments: the Advisory Division, the Litigation Division, the Affirmative Litigation, Innovation & Enforcement Division and the Labor & Employment Division. Through these Divisions, the Office seeks to make Oakland a great place to live and work.
Originally published in the ACBA Trial Practice Section’s Summer 2017 Newsletter, this article was written by James Treggiari, Executive Director of the Legal Assistance for Seniors, located in Oakland. Look for part II, III, and IV in this series coming soon.