The Office of City Attorney provides legal services to the Portland City Council, City bureaus, boards, commissions, agencies, and to individual City employees when required by the Oregon Tort Claims Act. Under the terms of the City Charter, the City Attorney is appointed by and serves at the pleasure of the City Council, and is the only City officer appointed by the full Council. The City Attorney's deputies are appointed by and serve at the pleasure of the City Attorney or as delegated to the Chief Deputy City Attorneys. Deputy City Attorneys are exempt from civil service.
The City Attorney's client is the City of Portland. Deputies are assigned by the City Attorney to provide legal services to various City bureaus and operations. The City Attorney and staff have an attorney-client relationship with the City.
The office's legal services include representing the City in a variety of areas including tort lawsuits, workers' compensation actions, personnel actions and discrimination lawsuits, other labor matters, land use and planning appeals, public records matters, code enforcement, constitutional challenges, license fees, foreclosure and lien actions, nuisance abatement, small claims, interpleader and civil forfeiture, real property matters, construction and contractor disputes, collections, housing issues, pension and benefit matters, environmental issues, water and natural resources law, toxic waste issues, park operations, business regulation, and fiscal and taxation matters.
In addition, the office provides various legal opinions and contract and document reviews for the City Council and City bureaus. Most City programs and operations entail some legal staff involvement.
The City Attorney administers the City's occasional use of outside legal counsel, when those services are required.