General Counsel

Westlands Water District

Westlands Water District

Fresno, CA

Position Summary
JOB TITLE: General Counsel
AGENCY: Westlands Water District
FILING DEADLINE: March 15, 2024
SALARY RANGE: $150,000 – $498,000 Annually

The Position
Under direction of the Board of Directors, in coordination with the General Manager, the General Counsel performs a broad range of staff legal work, represents the District on legal matters before a variety of governmental agencies and tribunals, performs a wide variety of legal research, and provides senior management with effective legal advice or opinions and their implementation, research, studying, interpreting, and applying laws and regulations, and court decisions. Further, the General Counsel provides expert legal advice in the specialized area of water law, which may be exceptionally difficult and sensitive. For a full description of specific duties, visit the District’s General Counsel class description on the District’s website at:

Duties and Responsibilities
The core responsibilities of the General Counsel are to guarantee the District is working in compliance with the law in every way. The incumbent will handle all legal actions to prevent the District’s profile and its employee’s reputation from the risk of exposure to the public as defined below:

• Provide legal advice or opinions to management and the Board of Directors on the legal effect of rules, regulations, proposed legislation, statutory law, court decisions, and administrative actions.
• Provide legal advice or opinions related to the definition and development of District policies, procedures, and programs and provide continuing counsel and guidance on legal matters and legal implications of all matters.
• Serve as key legal advisor on all major transactions, including acquisitions, divestitures, and joint ventures.
• Respond to legal correspondence and conduct special investigations involved in the enforcement of laws and District policies, rules and regulations.
• Assist in the preparation of or prepare cases that may result in litigation before boards, commissions, hearing officers, administrative law judges, or trial or appellate courts.

Key Characteristics
The District is seeking candidates with a wide range of experience in water-related legal matters and who are well-versed in the Brown Act. The incumbent will coordinate and manage litigation with outside counsel, develop and manage departmental budgets, and provide general in-house counsel to staff, including drafting and reviewing contracts, reviewing grant contract compliance, and other district matters. The selected candidate would preferably be based in either the Fresno or Sacramento areas and will possess the following:

Knowledge of:
• Operations of the Central Valley Project and the State Water Project.
• Existing state and federal water policy.
• California statutory and constitutional law, government codes, and federal reclamation laws.
• State and Federal legislative process.
• Principals, methods, materials, and practices of legal research.
• Court procedures, principles of administrative and Constitutional Law.
• Conduct proceedings in trial and appellate courts and before administrative bodies.
• The principles and practices of public personnel administration.

Skills and Abilities to:
• Analyze legal principles and apply those to the most difficult and complex legal and administrative issues.
• Perform research, analyze, appraise, and apply legal principles, facts, and precedents to legal issues.
• Present statements of fact, law and argument orally and in writing in clear and logical form.
• Prepare the most complex and difficult opinions, pleadings, rulings, regulations, and legislation.
• Conduct the most complex and sensitive in nature legislative and legal work.
• Establish and maintain the liaison with legislative and other governmental bodies.
• Interpret and apply federal, state, and local laws to the administration of District policies, programs, contracts and services.

Qualifications and Prior Experience
The ideal candidate is an experienced attorney, admitted to practice in the State of California and in good standing with the State Bar, who demonstrates the following further professional and personal characteristics:

• Excellent written and oral communication skills.
• Experience working closely with a wide range of constituencies: Board of Directors, water users, landowners, union, member agencies, and key stakeholders.
• Experience in advising sophisticated public entities with regard to overarching strategic planning.
• Notable experience in leading a diverse organization with initiative and drive.
• Exhibits the highest levels of trustworthiness, honesty and integrity.
• Is engaging and inspiring to professionals at all levels of the organization.
• Fully appreciates the needs of water users and partner agencies.

How to Apply
For more details about this opportunity, please visit the job brochure at:

Interested candidates must apply online to Required are a comprehensive resume, compelling cover letter (two-page maximum), and six references (2 supervisors, two direct reports and two colleagues—references will be contacted only after the interview process).

For questions and inquiries, please contact:

Pete Smith
Senior Recruiter

Job Bank Sponsorship Opportunity

Each quarter, one law firm and one company will have the opportunity to show their support for diversity in the legal profession and help advance the careers of attorneys of color by becoming a CMCP Job Bank Sponsor.