Cost Per Attorney for In-House City Attorney’s Offices in Southern California

By Michael Reiter, Attorney at Law

Here is another chart comparing the various in-house City Attorney’s Offices in Southern California.  This time, the comparison is the cost per attorney.  This is the number arrived at by dividing the 2011-2012 budget (or the latest available budget) by the number of in-house attorneys.  This is not the true cost per attorney, because the budget includes such things as supplies, investigators, secretaries, and paralegals.  El Centro and Hawthorne have incredible numbers, that if true, show a very tight ship indeed.  Newport Beach’s ratio is high because it includes the outside counsel budget.  The City of Riverside spends more than $56,000 less per attorney, a number that could be attributable to the City Attorney investigators used in San Bernardino.  Oxnard and Oceanside, which are the two cities I think are most analogous to the City of San Bernardino as far as legal problems, demographics and size, are underspending San Bernardino by about $35,000 and $47,000 per attorney.  A closer examination of the differences between the offices is in order before drawing more conclusions.

City Name # Attorneys 2011-’12 Budget $/Attorney
San Bernardino County
San Bernardino 10 $3,026,000* $302,600
Redlands 1 $429,237* $429,237
Riverside County
Moreno Valley 3 $910,535* $303,512
Riverside 14 $3,451,041 $246,502
Los Angeles County
Burbank 11 $3,614,447 $328,586
Compton 4 Not Online Unknown
Culver City 4 $1,779,809 $444,952
Glendale 13 $3,720,156* $286,165
Hawthorne 3.6** $551,447 $153,179
Inglewood 10** $2,342,133** $234,213
Long Beach 22 $8,585,107 $390,232
Long Beach City Prosecutor 17 $4,824,978* $283,822
Los Angeles 444 $94,950,894* $213,853
Palmdale 2 $3,988,760 $1,994,380
Pasadena 20 $6,467,000* $323,350
Redondo Beach 6 $2,496,915* $416,152
Santa Monica 24.5 $8,672331* $353,972
Torrance 6 $2,160,322* $360,054
Orange
Anaheim 23 $5,592,143 $243,137
Huntington Beach 7 $2,311,624* $330,232
Newport Beach 5.7 $2,298,563.87*** $403,256
Orange 4 $1,411,049* $352,762
Santa Ana 8.5 $2,081,395* $244,870
Ventura County
Oxnard 5 $1,336,917* $267,383
Simi Valley  4 $983,400* $245,850
Thousand Oaks 4 $1,564,032* $391,008
Ventura 4 $1,711,112 $427,778
San Diego County
Carlsbad 4 $1,336,460* $334,115
Chula Vista 8 $2,271,182 $283,898
Escondido 7 $1,873,925 $267,703
National City 2.5 $703,760 $281,504
Oceanside 6 $1,535,860 $255,977
San Diego 147 $42,442,992* $288,728
Vista 3 $1,011,603 $337,201
Imperial
El Centro 3** $588,772** $196,257
* 2011-2012 Proposed
** 2010-2011 Adopted
*** Includes Outside Counsel budget

The City of Palmdale’s City Attorney’s Office bares more scrutiny.  Looking back at it, it has a category of “operating expenses” without a detailed break-out of what that entails.  However, even if it includes outside counsel (like Newport Beach), the number seems high.  Perhaps litigation reserves are included in the City Attorney’s budget?  The City’s budget gives the personnel expenditures of $822,060.  That includes two lawyers, and 4.16 positions in total.  The price per attorney for just salaries, wages, and similar would be $411,030 per attorney, still higher than the average.

The information you obtain at this blog is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. No attorney-client relationship is established by reading or commenting on this blog. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation.

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