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Join the Santa Monica City Attorney's Office


The Santa Monica City Attorney's Office is currently seeking exceptional candidates for attorney and externship positions.


About the Santa Monica City Attorney’s Office

The Santa Monica City Attorney's Office (SMCAO) strives to provide the highest level of legal representation to the City of Santa Monica and the People of the State of California. Our office has been recognized as the outstanding public law office of the year by the American Bar Association, and our lawyers have been honored with the California Lawyer of the Year Award.

Join the Santa Monica City Attorney’s Office

The Santa Monica City Attorney’s Office is currently seeking exceptional candidates for one attorney position: 

  • Chief Deputy City Attorney, Criminal Division

We also accept applications for law student externships on an ongoing basis. This page offers details and application requirements.  


The City of Santa Monica

The City of Santa Monica is a beachfront community of 8.3 square miles that has earned an international reputation as a progressive and forward-thinking municipality. Santa Monica is known for its high quality of life, innovative policies and programs, uniquely participatory local democracy, and commitment to social and economic diversity, fair housing, the arts, and sustainability. The City government, comprising seven Council members and over 2,500 staff, is regularly recognized as shaping best practices in local government in California and beyond.

The Santa Monica City Attorney’s Office

The Santa Monica City Attorney's Office is committed to providing first-class legal representation to advance the public good. The Office’s precedent-setting work has included asserting the rights of local governments to regulate technology platforms; obtaining a consent decree allowing the City to close the Santa Monica Airport; drafting novel local land use, housing, and sustainability laws; and recovering more than $350 million from major oil companies following contamination of the City’s drinking water supply. The office has been recognized as the outstanding public law office of the year by the American Bar Association and our lawyers have been honored with the California Lawyer of the Year Award.


Chief Deputy City Attorney, Criminal Division

The Santa Monica City Attorney’s Office seeks an experienced leader to serve as Chief Deputy City Attorney, Criminal Division.  The Criminal Division prosecutes a wide range of misdemeanor violations of the California Penal Code and Santa Monica Municipal Code.  The Division also employs innovative diversion models to prevent and address crime in Santa Monica, including a “homeless court” program focused on the specific rehabilitation demands encountered in working with homeless individuals in the criminal justice system.

The successful applicant will have a combination of required and preferred qualifications, including exceptional leadership skills, high ethical standards, significant criminal prosecution experience, and the creativity and ability to design and implement innovative diversion programs and criminal justice policy solutions.

Required qualifications:

  • Proven leadership ability;
  • Sound judgment and high ethical standards;
  • Strong communication, advocacy, and research skills;
  • Minimum of five years of criminal experience, including trial experience; and
  • License to practice law in the State of California.

Preferred qualifications:

  • Significant management experience, including willingness to use data-driven management tools;
  • Significant experience designing, implementing, and directing criminal diversion programs addressing individuals experiencing homelessness and substance abuse; and
  • Creativity and ability to design and implement innovative criminal justice policy solutions.

Interested applicants should submit a cover letter, resume, writing sample of no more than ten pages, and the names of two references.  These materials should be submitted in a single pdf document by email to CAO.Opportunities@santamonica.gov with the subject line: “Application – Chief – Criminal Division.”  Candidates are strongly encouraged to apply by May 14, 2021, when consideration of applicants will begin.  The position is open until filled. 

A background check will be required prior to beginning employment.  Salary is dependent on qualifications and experience based on a five-step scale, range $206,760 to $255,264; excellent benefits.


Law Student Externship Opportunities

The Santa Monica City Attorney’s Office Externship Program offers unpaid extern opportunities for law students, hands-on experience in the various areas of law practiced in a municipal law office. During the CAO Externship Program, externs rotate between the Civil Liability, Municipal, Public Rights, and Criminal Divisions of the Santa Monica City Attorney’s Office. In each rotation, externs are provided an overview of the work conducted in that division (civil litigation, transactional/advisory, affirmative litigation, criminal, etc.), assigned projects arising from the areas of law specific to that division, and given the opportunity to gain practical experience by shadowing and/or participating in activities central to that division’s practice. Summer 2021 will be a remote program.

Externs must abide by the highest ethical and professional standards. Candidates will be considered based on qualifications, including excellence in oral communication, and writing skills, proficiency in legal research, and interest in public service. Start and end dates are flexible.

Interested applicants should submit a single .pdf containing a cover letter, resume, writing sample of no more than ten pages, and the names of two references by email to CAO.Opportunities@santamonica.gov with the subject line: “Application – Externship.” A background check may be required prior to beginning the externship.

  • Applications are accepted all year round.

Equal Opportunity Employer

The City of Santa Monica is an equal opportunity employer. The City Council’s Policy Statement reads in part, “In the recruitment, selection, assignment, promotion, discipline and training of personnel, we will consider only job-related skills, abilities, knowledge and performance. We will develop positive measures to eliminate discrimination based on race, color, gender, national origin, religion, age, disability, or sexual harassment in the workplace."

Inclusion & Diversity

The City of Santa Monica is a progressive, inclusive, and culturally-rich community. As leaders in public service, we strive to be an employer of choice by attracting and retaining a highly-talented workforce where people of diverse races, religions, cultures and lifestyles thrive. Our goal is to create a welcoming and inclusive environment where our staff are empowered to perform at their highest level and where their differences make a positive impact.

The City is an equal opportunity employer and strives to build balanced teams from all walks of life without regard to race, color, ethnicity, religion, national origin, age, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status, ancestry, disability, genetic information, veteran status, or any other status protected under federal, state and/or local law. We aim to create a workplace that celebrates and embraces the diversity of our employees. Join us!


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