The primary purpose of this position is to provide overall direction and management of the Legal Department and to ensure that the Houston Housing Authority and its subsidiaries receive the highest standard of legal representation as the General Counsel carries out its mandate as fund administrator, contract negotiator, landlord, leasing agent, developer, employer, redevelopment agency, and housing authority. The General Counsel serves as the chief legal advisor to the President & Chief Executive Officer and all Department Heads/Executive Team on all legal matters involving or relating to the Houston Housing Authority including litigation, public housing law, Housing Choice Voucher Program (HCVP) legal issues, employment, landlord and tenant issues, personnel and other administrative functions. All activities support the Houston Housing Authority's mission, strategic goals, and objectives and produce results that accomplish the goals of the General Counsel. Reports to the President & Chief Executive Officer.
PRINCIPAL DUTIES AND RESPONSIBILITIES
Directs the Legal Department in developing processes and procedures to increase efficiency and to reduce risk; implements strategies to prioritize cases to achieve agency goals.
Develops the Legal Department’s strategic goals, operating procedures, and budget planning process; monitors and evaluates operations and special activities for efficiency, effectiveness and compliance with policies and procedures.
Identifies, implements, and evaluates best practices to maximize project and service delivery.
Researches, analyzes, develops, and/or provides opinions toward the development of agency-wide policies and procedures to ensure compliance with applicable laws and regulations.
Prepares legal documents such as contracts, leases, petitions, depositions, answers, and motions.
Advises employees on matters pertaining to legal rights, obligations, and other phases of the law.
Represents the Houston Housing Authority in employee grievance conferences, and represents the Houston Housing Authority at fact finding conferences concerning Equal Employment Opportunity Complaints.
Reviews and monitors all releases of the Houston Housing Authority information.
Creates and reviews correspondence and other releases of the Houston Housing Authority information for the President & Chief Executive Officer.
Reviews and/or prepares procurement contracts, bid proposals, and professional service agreements for compliance with standard operating procedures, local, state, and federal laws. Also assists departments in establishing evaluation criteria for maximum results.
Advise the Houston Housing Authority and Pension Trustees on employee pension matters.
Responsible for conducting the legal business of the Houston Housing Authority and all suits instituted by and against the Houston Housing Authority; furnishes opinions and/or interpretations, orally or in writing, to the President & CEO or Department Heads when requested.
Attends Board meetings, Executive Sessions and advises the Board of Commissioners on legal matters.
Supervises and directs strategies in consultation with the President & Chief Executive Officer for all affirmative and defensive litigation before any judicial or administrative body.
Responsible for the development, preparation, and monitoring of the Legal Department’s annual budget in consultation with the President & Chief Executive Officer and the Vice President of Finance.
Attends meetings, hearings, conferences and other official gatherings of the Houston Housing Authority as requested by the President & Chief Executive Officer, to provide legal advice on policies and procedures that have potential implications on the Houston Housing Authority.
Assists in the preparation and review of all relevant contracts, grants, agreements, and other legal instruments between the Houston Housing Authority and other parties; reviews documents for compliance with all applicable federal and local requirements.
Reviews Houston Housing Authority audits of fiscal and other program areas and reports results issued to the President & Chief Executive Officer.
Reviews and advises on the Houston Housing Authority’s system for collection and recovery of monies due for delinquent rent if court action is deemed necessary.
Prepares cases for court or other legal forums in order to assist in the expeditious resolution of said cases.
Directs the assessment and review of all offers of settlement of all claims by or against the Houston Housing Authority; makes recommendations to the President & Chief Executive Officer.
Directs the preparation of and/or prepares recurring and special reports as requested by the President & Chief Executive Officer.
Oversees Legal Department employee selection; delegates matter assignments; monitors work and ensures high quality performance.
Directs and establishes department and employee performance objectives and provides ongoing feedback; writes and conducts performance reviews that communicate both honest assessment and clear goals and objectives.
Communicates management’s position, agency information and work changes to employees.
Informs Department Heads and other personnel of existing and new laws and regulations that affect their areas of responsibility.
Develops a system for review, analysis, and distribution of all Federal Register notices, HUD regulations, handbooks, notices, guides, and transmittals to affected departments of the Houston Housing Authority.
Maintains agency legal and regulatory library.
Interfaces with HUD Legal Counsel in order to comply with changing regulations and for approval of contracts for outside legal representatives, when requested.
Complies with agency policies and practices when acting on or reviewing personnel-related issues including, but not limited to: employee selection, salary offers, time off and overtime requests, employee complaints and concerns, and disciplinary action.
Directs and coordinates activities of outside counsel.
Assures compliance with timekeeping, practice management and recordkeeping procedures in compliance with federal mandates and agency policies.
Performs other related duties as needed.
KNOWLEDGE, SKILLS AND ABILITIES
Knowledge of legal practices and procedures affecting the Houston Housing Authority and its programs, ability to analyze and interpret laws, regulations, and legal documents.
Knowledge of federal, state, and local housing, public housing redevelopment, real estate development laws, regulations, and municipal proceedings.
Knowledge of policies, procedures, functions, and employees in the Legal Department.
Knowledge of Real Estate, Contract, Landlord and Tenant, Employment/ Labor, and Corporate Law.
Knowledge of laws affecting personnel and pension issues.
Skilled using office machines, computers, and other office equipment.
Ability to communicate clearly and concisely, both orally and in writing.
Ability to create legal contracts, briefs, and all other legal documentation.
Proficient in Microsoft Office Suite (Outlook, Word, Excel, Power Point, etc.).
Proficient in typing.
Must be capable of learning other computer software programs as required.
COMPLEXITY / SCOPE OF WORK
Effectively influences actions and opinions of others; and accepts feedback and gives appropriate recognition.
Includes employees in planning, decision-making, facilitating, and process improvement.
Takes responsibility for subordinates' activities.
Makes self available to employees; provides regular performance feedback; develops subordinates' skills and encourages growth; solicits and applies customer feedback (internal and external); and fosters quality focus in others.
Improves processes, products, and services; and continually works to improve supervisory skills.
Understands business implications of decisions; demonstrates knowledge of market; and aligns work with strategic goals.
Synthesizes complex or diverse information; collects and researches data; and uses intuition and experience to complement data.
Sets high standards of performance; pursues aggressive goals and works hard/smart to achieve them; strives for results and success; conveys a sense of urgency and brings issues to closure; and persists despite obstacles and opposition.
Meets/exceeds the expectations and requirements of internal and external customers; identifies, understands, monitors, and measures the needs of internal and external customers; responds to the needs of internal and external customers; talks and acts with customers in mind; and recognizes working colleagues as customers.
Ensures important information is passed to those who need to know.
Conveys necessary information clearly and effectively orally or in writing.
Demonstrates attention to and conveys understanding of the comments and questions of others; and listens effectively.
Demonstrates a high level of conscientiousness; holds oneself personally responsible for one's own work; and does one’s fair share of work.
The employee’s work affects a significant portion of the Houston Housing Authority’s total operation function including staffing operations.
Effective and efficient accomplishment of work by the employee contributes significantly to the Houston Housing Authority’s ability to provide adequate housing to the city’s low-income residents.
The employee follows the Houston Housing Authority's policies and procedures, HUD regulations, legal resources, and federal and state laws and regulations, in accomplishing assignments. Usually, other guidance provided the employee is broad and general policy statements.
Methods for accomplishing routine work are at the discretion of the employee, subject to existing practices and procedures.
When unusual situations arise, the employee may request guidance from the supervisor.
The employee receives work assignments and instructions from the President & Chief Executive Officer. Normally, the instructions are broad and general.
In unusual situations the supervisor may specify how to accomplish assigned work.
Courses of action, deadlines, and priorities are established by procedure, the supervisor, or the employee, depending on the assignment.
Normally, the employee plans and carries out routine work activities with minimal supervision and independently resolves problems that arise.
Instructions to the employee may be general or specific in nature.
Problems or situations not covered by instructions are usually referred to the supervisor for resolution.
The employee's work is reviewed sporadically for thoroughness, attainment of objectives, and conformity to organizational policies and procedures.
The employee makes specific and broad assignments to legal staff and the Legal Administrative Secretary.
Generally, the employee makes assignments by setting deadlines and priorities, and indicates the quantity of work expected.
The employee reviews subordinate's work for thoroughness, accuracy, conformity with policies and procedures, and achievement of goals.
The employee prepares performance evaluations, counsels and disciplines employees.
The employee has contact with the Houston Housing Authority employees at all levels and with various categories of persons including; President & Chief Executive Officer, Board of Commissioners, Department Heads, attorney court personnel, the general public, residents, business firms, contractors, consultants, insurance agencies, representatives of various social service, educational and city agencies.
The primary purpose of contacts is to gain, clarify, or give information; plan, coordinate, and advise on work efforts; motivate, influence, or direct persons or groups; and to justify, defend, negotiate, or resolve controversial matters or issues.
PHYSICAL DEMANDS / WORK ENVIRONMENT
Work involves the normal risks or discomforts associated with an office environment, but are usually in an area that is adequately cooled, heated, lighted, and ventilated.
Work is principally sedentary, but may involve some physical exertion, such as kneeling, crouching, or lifting to obtain files and records, and eye strain from abundant reading, working with computers and other office equipment.
Requires travel to meetings, conferences, and court proceedings.
The employee must occasionally lift and/or move up to 25 pounds.
The noise level in the work environment is usually quiet.
Juris Doctorate degree required.
Ten (10) years of related experience and/or training, or the equivalent combination of education and experience. Three (3) years of supervisory experience preferred.
Must be licensed to practice law.
The above statements are intended to describe the general nature and level of work being performed by people assigned to this classification. They are not intended to be construed as an exhaustive list of all responsibilities, duties and skills required of personnel so classified..