Closing Date: 2nd September, 2022


About Us
The thriving, innovative, and inclusive community of Durham County, North Carolina, operating under a Board of Commissioners-Manager form of government is seeking a passionate, highly competent, and diplomatic leader to serve as its next County Attorney. With impeccable strategic leadership skills, the next County Attorney will have extensive experience providing legal counsel in county government. The County Attorney is a well-respected, honored, and trusted leader who will prioritize establishing trust with stakeholders including department staff and County leadership. The successful Attorney is a natural at building and establishing relationships with others – a strong collaborator who will demonstrate the dignity and worth of all in their interactions with stakeholders including the leadership team, department staff, community, and Board of Commissioners. This highly effective leader has a track record of success, values accountability and holds high expectations of self and others. With significant expertise, the County Attorney will humbly and strategically work to protect and preserve the reputation of the County.

About the Community:
Durham County, located in the Research Triangle Region of North Carolina, is home to Research Triangle Park (RTP) and is one of the most economically competitive regions in the world. Within Durham County boundaries, there are six townships, seven unincorporated communities, two census designated communities, and parts of two Towns (Chapel Hill and Morrisville). With the City of Durham as the County seat, the County is inclusive of both urban and rural settings and must strive to balance the needs of its community members. Research and development from the region’s major research institutions, and many private and federal labs, have fueled business and economic growth in Durham County and have made the region a world leader in life sciences, information technology, and clean technology. In fact, RTP, which continues to grow, is a 7,000-acre special county research and production district that houses more than 170 major research companies employing 39,000 full-time employees and 10,000 contract workers.

Consistently ranked among the top places to live, work and play, Durham is a magnet for talent, which helps attract innovative companies working in high-growth industries. Durham, the “City of Medicine,” has long been known for world-class medical facilities, including top-ranked Duke University Medical Center, and an industry-leading pharmaceutical sector. The healthcare industry in Durham County includes more than 300 medical and health-related companies and medical practices with a combined payroll that exceeds $1.2 billion annually. More recently, Durham County become a hotspot for entrepreneurs and high-tech startups, propelled by the launch of American Underground, a startup incubator and accelerator and the Durham Innovation District that is a planned, mixed-use residential/retail/lab and workspace in Downtown Durham. Durham boasts a premier performing arts center and the Durham Bulls AAA baseball team. In addition to Duke University, Durham is home to North Carolina Central University, the nation’s first public Historically Black College and University, now a major center for biotech and bio-manufacturing R&D, and Durham Technical Community College, a key partner in preparing a competitive workforce. Private investment is flourishing, redeveloping former tobacco and textile warehouses and historic buildings into exciting, mixed-use developments filled with diverse and popular housing options, restaurants, artist studios, retail spaces and small businesses.

The population of Durham County is over 320,000 and highly diverse. Much of Durham County’s growth occurred within the City of Durham where the majority of the County’s community members reside. The County's population grew from 267,587 to 324,833 during the period 2010-2020, representing a decade-long increase of more than 20%. Current expectations are that the population is projected to grow by 30% by 2050. Centrally located, Durham County is a few hours’ drive from the beautiful North Carolina coast to the East and the Appalachian Mountains to the West.

About the Organization:
The Durham County Commissioners are a five-member board with commissioners serving four-year terms. Durham County Government provides services ranging from animal control to zoning with strong support provided to the local Board of Education and School Superintendent. Award-winning programs in our Health Department, IT, Public Library, Social Services, and Tax Departments as well as GFOA recognized reporting in the Finance department, demonstrate Durham County’s commitment to better serve our residents, prepare for the future and be a caring, inclusive, and transparent government.

The County is regarded as a fiscally responsible, stable, and well managed government with sound budget and strong fund balance (net assets). For more than 20 years, Durham County has been awarded a Triple A bond rating, a designation attained by only 69 counties in the United States and only six of North Carolina’s 100 counties. Durham County has an overall budget of approximately $760 million with an operating budget of around $500 million. The County has 27 departments employing about 2,100 FTE employees. The County’s goal areas of Community and Family, Health and Well-Being, Secure Community, Environment and Visionary Government guide staff in their daily work. Executive leadership is structured around these goal areas and the County Manager is supported by five general managers overseeing each area, and a chief of Staff.

The County has worked hard to increase transparency and to match the community vision of “Durham County is a thriving, vibrant and diverse community with abundant opportunity for all residents to live, work, learn, play and grow” with goals and an actionable strategic plan that includes a robust implementation and evaluation process. Through one of their strategic goals - Community Empowerment and Enrichment, Durham County is committed to providing access to educational, vocational, economic, and cultural opportunities while empowering citizens to choose pathways for their own success. As showcased in this ICMA focus video, the County’s collaborative and innovative efforts post Covid so beautifully demonstrated this vision at work. To learn more about the Community and Organization, visit the County website.

About the Position:
The Durham County Board of Commissioners is the legislative and policy-making body for Durham County and is the final authority on all County matters. The Board of County Commissioners hires the County Manager, County Attorney, County Clerk, appoints members of boards, committees and commissions, approves the annual budget, authorizes contracts on the County’s behalf, enacts ordinances and resolutions and establishes general County policies. The County Attorney is appointed by the Commissioners to advise the Board, the County Manager and department heads on all legal matters related to the operation of County government. The County Attorney's office is responsible for ensuring that affairs and actions of Durham County are conducted in accordance with federal, state, and local laws. Legal opinions are provided on all laws, contracts, leases, deeds, and other legal documents.

The County Attorney’s office comprises 11 Attorneys across 3 divisions - DSS, General Legal, and Risk Management with the bulk of legal counsel occurring in the DSS and General Legal divisions. The County Attorney will have proven success managing staff and will utilize best practices in helping staff manage caseloads. This professional will be adept in balancing the administrative duties of the position including being responsible for some caseloads, particularly contracts while providing support to staff and meeting the needs of the Board and staff. The ideal candidate would have experience in risk management, safety, OSHA compliance and safety.

The Durham County Attorney must have graduated from an accredited school of law and be licensed to practice law in North Carolina or have licensure reciprocity. Ten (10) years of experience as a practicing attorney performing high level legal and trial work with experience in municipal/county legal provisions, judicial procedure, rules of civil and criminal procedure, and rules of evidence is required. Additionally, experience with labor relations and the management and supervision of licensed attorneys is required. Experience in Municipal/County or Public Law, Contract Law, Employment Law &/or Environmental Law with a strong litigation background and experience in the capacity of a City/County Attorney or with other public sector entities is preferred.

The Successful Candidate:
  • constructively and assertively advises and provides guidance to the County Commissioners;
  • works collaborative­ly with all Durham County departments to solve problems and improve services and quality of life for community members and holds Legal staff to the same standard of collaborative engagement;
  • is an empowering leader with impeccable integrity and a proven record of building and maintaining morale with consistency in managing both internal and exter­nal relationships;
  • is dedicated to building a cohesive team by eliminating silos and seeking commonality across functions intra-departmentally and working effectively inter-departmentally to build relationships in service to County goals;
  • is intentional and creative in work-flow processes with success in planning, assigning and coordinating the work of team members both short and long term;
  • diplomatically engages with diverse stakeholders such as the County department heads, the school system, individual community members, community groups, commissioners, employees, regional, state, and federal authorities in order to leverage County opportunities and mitigate challenges;
  • is committed to the development and growth of individual employees and willing to advocate for the needs of employees;
  • holds a thorough knowledge of North Carolina law pertaining to County government;
  • has extensive knowledge of and experience in applying the principles and procedures of civil law, especially as related to County government;
  • is excellent in conducting legal research, investigation methods, judicial procedure, and rules of evidence;
  • is considered a highly accomplished legal professional with exceptional skill in legal writing;
  • analyzes and solves legal problems and interprets laws and regulations affecting the County to a high legal standard;
  • knowledgeable of the growing challenges of technology and data privacy with experience proactively providing counsel to support the enhancement of security system-wide to prevent data breaches, cyber attacks, etc.;
  • is resilient in the face of challenges and seeks innovative solutions to problems; and,
  • communicates excellently both verbally and in writing and possesses well-developed interpersonal skills and abilities.