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Valley Water - Assistant District Counsel - Public Contracting

Bianca Garcia | Published on 4/18/2022

Assistant District Counsel
Valley Water
Annual Salary $218,150.40 - $268,153.60 DOE/DOQ

COVID-19 vaccination requirement:
 *To protect our most valuable assets, our employees, as well as the communities we serve, Valley Water requires all new hired Valley Water personnel to be fully vaccinated (for COVID -19) or to be formally excused from the requirement through the **reasonable accommodation process. 

This position is eligible for a hybrid telework schedule, typically working 40% remote and 60% onsite.

Valley Water Telework Program: Eligibility for telework will depend on the type of work performed, operational needs, and the ability for the employee to perform the essential functions of their job duties while teleworking. Employment with Valley Water requires employees to work within 150 miles of their primary physical work location located in San Jose, California by their start date.  

Valley Water’s Office of District Counsel is seeking a mid-level attorney to advise on procurements, public works projects, and inter-agency transactions. The Assistant District Counsel will function as one of four assistant counsels reporting to the District Counsel and is designated as unclassified/at-will. They will work closely with internal Valley Water stakeholders to process transactions for several major public works projects in various stages of development as well as routine transactions.
The ideal candidate has a solid background in contracting and/or procurement, preferably (but not necessarily) in a public agency environment. Experience with public entity risk management, litigation, real estate, and/or the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and other associated environmental laws and regulations is also helpful. The ideal candidate has high integrity, unassailable character, unquestionable ethics, and can work collaboratively throughout the organization in a creative, respectful, and diplomatic manner. They are a clear and concise writer and speaker (no “legalese”), approachable, collegial, responsive, and politically astute but apolitical. They have common sense and good judgment and can apply the law to find solutions and get things done. The goal is “getting to yes” legally – the default answer cannot be “no.”
Valley Water’s dual role as both a water utility and a stewardship agency provides a wide array of interesting and critical priorities and projects for the District Counsel’s office. Key Valley Water initiatives and focus areas include expansion of the existing water supply, contracts for the importation of water into Santa Clara County,  expanding capacity of purified water production, the Anderson Dam Seismic Retrofit project, the Pacheco Reservoir Expansion Project, and the Fisheries and the Aquatic Habitat Collaborative Effort. The scale and scope of these major projects and initiatives requires major legal considerations in the areas of contracting, procurement, land use, environment, government regulations, real estate/land acquisition, and capitol project construction.

Critical to this role will be the ability to acquire and develop legal expertise within various topical areas related to the water industry, the myriad of ongoing projects, and an ability and passion to contribute in an active, fast-paced, and complex legal environment.
The demands and expectations of this role will require a commitment to public service, a passion for the mission of the agency and a tremendous work ethic. A good sense of humor is a must.  An energetic, proactive, self-initiating, multitasker will be a perfect fit for this assignment.

About Valley Water:
Santa Clara Valley Water District (Valley Water) is a public agency with a current operating and capital budget of $838 million, an $8.021 billion 2022-26 Five-Year Capital Improvement Program, and a staff of over 880 employees. Valley Water is governed by a seven-member Board of Directors, each elected by their district to serve overlapping four-year terms.
Valley Water manages 10 dams and surface water reservoirs, three water treatment plants, an advanced recycled water purification center, a state-of-the-art water quality laboratory, nearly 400 acres of groundwater recharge ponds, and more than 275 miles of streams to serve nearly two million people in Santa Clara County, which stretches 1,300 square miles and encompasses 15 cities and unincorporated areas.
Valley Water’s mission is to provide Silicon Valley safe, clean water for a healthy life, environment, and economy. With headquarters in San José, California, Valley Water delivers water supply; enhances streams and watersheds through creek restoration and habitat protection; provides flood risk reduction for homes, schools, businesses, and roadways; and partners with other agencies to provide trails and open space for the community.

Key Responsibilities include, but are not limited to:
  • Perform legal research, evaluate alternatives, and make sound recommendations.
  • Prepare, draft and review a variety of legal documents including contracts, resolutions, ordinances, and pleadings.
  • Prepare, draft and review a variety of reports, correspondence, and other written materials.
  • Advise the CEO, Board of Directors and Valley Water staff on legal matters.
  • Review new and proposed State and Federal legislation and administrative regulations affecting Valley Water interests and analyzes them for impact.
Ideal Candidate's Background Includes:
Applicants whose experience and background best match the ideal experience, knowledge, skills, abilities, and education are considered ideal candidates for the position. To determine the top candidates, each applicant will be assessed based on the ideal candidate criteria as listed below.
Ideal Experience:
  • Two years of recent experience (five or more years is ideal) in the active practice of law in the State of California focusing on contracting and procurement. 
  • Experience with the California Environmental Quality Act and other environmental laws/regulations, prevailing wage requirements, and federal and state funding obligations is ideal. 
  • Litigation experience is also valuable. 
  • Prior public agency experience is helpful but not required.
  • Experience with federal, state, and local agencies and their related regulatory environments is also preferred.
Ideal Skills and Abilities:
  • A can-do, solutions-oriented mindset is a must, as is a sense of humor. 
  • Maintains effective relationships with federal, state, regional, municipal, and local agencies, and with Silicon Valley’s major stakeholders. 
  • Comfortable operating in complex legal and regulatory environments.
  • Establish and maintain effective working relationships with those contacted at work.
  • Analyze and apply principles of law.
  • Present statements of law and fact clearly and logically, both orally and in writing.
  • Prepare legally sufficient transactional documents.
  • Prepare a variety of reports, correspondence, and other written materials.
  • Collect, interpret, and evaluate varied information and data and provide recommendations.
  • A high standard of professional ethics, including a willingness to pledge a commitment to the Santa Clara County Bar Association’s Code of Professionalism.
Ideal Knowledge:
  • Knowledge of law and principles related to flood risk reduction, water resource management, modern water law, and state and local water history is desirable. 
  • Principles and procedures of law, particularly as related to public agency activities.
  • Research resources and techniques.
  • Trial procedure and rules of evidence.
  • Judicial procedures and the rules of evidence.
  • Pleadings and practices and effective techniques in the presentation of court cases.
  • Principles of governmental organization.
  • Principles and practices of supervision, training and performance evaluation.
  • State and federal laws and constitutional provisions affecting District operations.
  • Ethical responsibilities of California attorneys.
Ideal Training and Education:
Graduation from an accredited four-year college or university, and graduation from an accredited law school.

Please submit your application along with cover letter and resume by the application deadline. In your cover letter, please provide your CA State Bar Association number and address the following three prompts:
  • Who is the client of an attorney for a public entity? How would that influence the performance of your duties as the Assistant District Counsel for the Santa Clara Valley Water District? 
  • Please describe the top three achievements of your professional legal career and why you are proud of them.
  • Tell us about your experience in the following areas:
    1. Public works
    2. Procurement
    3. Public Contracting
    4. Transactions between/among public agencies
    5. Water law
    6. Navigating a multilayered regulatory environment
 Following the closing date, resumes and cover letters will be screened according to the qualifications outlined above. The most qualified candidates will be invited to Zoom panel interviews with a Valley Water-appointed interview panel. A select group of candidates will be asked to provide references once it is anticipated that they may be recommended as finalists. References will be contacted only following candidate approval. Finalist interviews will be held with a Valley Water executive interview panel.
 2% at age 60 or 2% at age 62 based on provisions of the California Public Employees’ Pension Reform Act of 2013 (PEPRA). Valley Water is exploring with CalPERS the ability to provide an existing classic formula of 2.5% at age 55 to defined classic employees.
Up to a maximum of 10 years prior public service reciprocity credit towards obtaining retirement health benefits. Employee must work a minimum of 5 years with Valley Water and retire from Valley Water.
 Medical, Dental, Vision Care and EAP benefits are provided. Employees pay 15% towards the monthly premium cost for medical coverage. Dental, Vision Care and EAP coverage is provided with no monthly premium cost to the employee; Medical, Dental, Vision Care and EAP benefits are provided to all regular employees and their eligible dependents.
 Group Life and Disability Insurance.
 Available to employees as an option with up to $8,000 in annual matching contributions.
 Health Care and Dependent Care Spending.
 Newly hired employees receive 224 hours (28 days/year) of prorated vacation.
 3 days of bereavement leave; 24 hours of executive leave and 32 hours of prorated personal leave; up to 96 hours per year sick leave.
 13 designated days per calendar year.


Required License or Certificate


  • Must be a current member, in good standing, of the California State Bar Association.
  • Possession of, or ability to obtain, an appropriate, valid California driver's license. Individuals who do not meet the driver's license requirement due to a disability will be considered for a reasonable accommodation on a case-by-case basis.