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Webinar: Legal Career Paths During COVID-19: Local Government Perspectives

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July 8, 2020 @ 12:00 pm 1:15 pm

A Discussion Series Presented by the Environmental Law Section, California Lawyers Association

Across the United States, the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted everyday life, caused thousands of deaths, and unleased unprecedented economic stress not seen since the 2008 Great Recession. These economic conditions have had an impact on the legal profession. Private law firms and in-house divisions are instituting pay cuts and reducing staff; local, state, and federal agencies are facing severe budget deficits leading to furloughs and hiring freezes; and non-profit legal organizations are seeing dwindling contributions and grants.

For attorneys and recent law school graduates, this economic uncertainty will present serious challenges to securing and/or retaining employment or a practice. What effect will this pandemic have on the legal profession? How should practitioners and recent law school graduates prepare to avoid career setbacks? What are lessons learned from previous economic recessions?

In this fourth installment, join practitioners from the local government sector for a discussion about how to navigate through these uncertain times.


  • Anais Martinez Aquino, Assistant City Attorney, City of Sunnyvale
  • Christopher Curtis, Deputy District Attorney, Environmental Crimes Division, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office
  • Jessi Fierro, Assistant Counsel, San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District
  • Julia Woo, Senior Deputy County Counsel, Office of County Counsel, Orange County

Moderator: Andrea Ruiz-Esquide, Deputy City Attorney, San Francisco City Attorney’s Office

Andrea Ruiz-Esquide has been working as a Deputy City Attorney at the San Francisco’s City Attorney’s Office since 2007.  Prior to that, she was a fellow at Shute, Mihaly & Weinberger, LLP, and a law clerk to the Honorable John T. Noonan, in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. At the City Attorney’s Office, Andrea advises City agencies and departments on a variety of environmental and land use matters.  She specializes in zoning and planning, environmental review under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), historic preservation, transportation, air quality and greenhouse gas issues.  She also drafts legislation, and litigates matters in court. 

Andrea got her law degree from Berkeley Law in 2004. She also has a Ph.D. in History from Columbia University.  She grew up in Santiago, Chile.

Anais Martinez Aquino is an Assistant City Attorney for the City of Sunnyvale. In that capacity, she advises the City’s Department of Public Safety (an integrated, full service police and fire department) and counsels on code enforcement matters. She has successfully litigated cases involving nuisance and blighted residential and commercial properties in the city. Additionally, Anais manages the City’s Pitchess matters, weapons petitions, SB 1421 requests for public records, and recently introduced and utilized gun violence restraining orders (GVRO’s). Anais graduated from UCLA cum laude with college honors, and earned her law degree from Loyola Law School. Anais also serves on the League of California Cities Municipal Law Symposium committee and is a yearly reviewer of the California Municipal Law Handbook. Anais is a member of the Executive Committee for the California Young Lawyers Association (CYLA) and serves as their Liaison to the Public Law Section of the California Lawyers Association (CLA).

Christopher Curtis has been a Deputy District Attorney with the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office for the last 14 years and assigned to its Environmental Crimes Division for the last 8. Chris graduated from Duke University in 2001 majoring in Public Policy and received his law degree in 2004 from Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.

In his assignment with the Environmental Crimes Division, Chris helps investigate and prosecute felonies, misdemeanors, and civil law enforcement actions against corporations and individuals.  He is also responsible for prosecuting workplace death cases resulting from OSHA violations. Chris works with federal, state, and local environmental task forces and enforcement and administrative agencies in prosecuting environmental crimes. He has prosecuted over 100 jury and court trials and has handled 1,000’s of cases.

Chris participates in the District Attorney’s Project LEAD mentorship program for at risk fifth graders in Los Angeles County. Chris has also served as the previous co-Chair of the Langston Bar Association’s Bench and Bar Committee.

Jessi Fierro has worked at the San Joaquin Valley Unified Air Pollution Control District since 2005, working first in regulation and plan development before taking the role of Assistant Counsel starting in 2014.  Her legal work includes civil enforcement of environmental regulations through the eight county Superior Courts of the San Joaquin Valley;  federal appellate work in the Ninth and D.C. Circuits; and advising on employment and public agency issues. 

Ms. Fierro holds a BA in geology and physics from Lawrence University (Appleton, WI); an MA in journalism and mass communication from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee; and a JD from San Joaquin College of Law (Clovis, CA).  Ms. Fierro has taught as an adjunct professor at Fresno City College, CSU-Fresno, Kern County College of Law, and San Joaquin College of Law.  She serves on the Executive Committee of the Environmental Law Section of the California Lawyers Association. 

Julia Woo is a Senior Deputy County Counsel with the County of Orange, where her practice focuses on advising County agencies on water quality law (NPDES permitting, compliance and related regulatory matters), California Environmental Quality Act compliance and land use matters related to County-owned real estate.  Julia came to the County Counsel’s office in 2009, when she transitioned from being a life-long Angeleno to life in Orange County.  Prior to entering public service, Julia was an associate at a boutique civil litigation firm in downtown Los Angeles, were she represented large commercial general liability insurers in subordination and coverage disputes.

Julia received her B.A. from UC Berkeley (Go Bears!), and her J.D. from UCLA School of Law.  She is admitted to practice in California and Nevada.

We are committed to accessibility! Virtual events are equipped with closed captioning. To request an in-person accommodation, send us a note at or contact us at 916-516-1760 for assistance.


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