12:30 p.m. – 1:00 p.m. | Registration Opens and Coffee Service

Pre-Conference Skills Workshops and Opening Session

  • Christine Wood, Conference Co-Chair – BB&K LLP
  • Erin O’Neal, Director, Capital Center for Law  & Policy
1:00 p.m. – 2:15 p.m. | Writing Workshop
2:30 p.m. – 3:45 pm | Research Workshop
  • Speaker:  Ederlina Co, Professor – McGeorge School of Law
4:00 p.m. – 5:15 p.m. | Networking Workshop
  • Speaker:  Darien Fleming, Executive Coach


7:30 a.m. – 8:30 a.m. | Welcome from Conference Co-Chairs and McGeorge
  • Speakers:  Christine Wood, Conference Co-Chair; Michael Hunter Schwartz, Dean – McGeorge Law School
8:30 a.m. – 9:15 a.m. | Opening Session: What Makes Public Lawyering Unique?
  • Speakers:  Susana Alcala-Wood, Sacramento City Attorney

Litigation Track

9:30 a.m. – 10:30 a.m. | Litigation Overview – What it means to litigate within a public agency? How is it different?

What does it mean to litigate within a public agency? How is it different? This session will provide an overview of the litigation process from the perspective of an attorney representing a public agency. Topics will include overview of motions, the discovery process, and settlement strategies.

  • Speaker:  Suzanne Kennedy, Elk Grove City Attorney’s Office
10:45 a.m.  – 11:45 a.m. | Code Prosecution & Enforcement

This session will provide an overview of the duties of a City Attorney as a prosecutor. Topics will include administrative, civil and criminal prosecution strategies. The presentation will discuss the benefits and drawbacks of each prosecution strategy and include a conversation on best practices. The focus will be primarily on cannabis prosecutions. 

  • Speaker:  Brittany Brace – City of Sacramento

Public Trust Track

9:30 a.m. – 11:45 a.m. | Dysfunction Junction: Brown Act In-Meeting Challenges

Public lawyers are often called upon to provide advice during the meetings of legislative bodies. This requires instant and wise counsel. As part of this session, participants will attend a live meeting of the Planning Commission of the City of Dysfunction Junction and a Dysfunction Junction City Council closed session. Enjoy the opportunity to participate in the meetings in the role of city attorney, an exercise that will be illuminating, educational, and a little embarrassing—just like real city meetings. There is no more practical, in-depth Brown Act training.

  • Speaker:  Christi Hogin, BB&K, LLP; Michael Jenkins, BB&K, LLP

Operations Track

9:30 a.m. – 10:30 a.m. | Public Contracting

Public agencies engage in the procurement and purchase of a variety of goods, materials, and services to assist them in meeting their public agency goals.  Federal, state, and local laws and regulations provide a framework for public contracting that is intended to protect public funds, ensure fairness, and eliminate favoritism, fraud, and corruption.  This session will provide an overview of the laws and principles relating to public contracting and highlight the public agency attorney’s role in ensuring compliance with applicable statutory and regulatory frameworks. 

  • Speaker:  Michael McDonnell – San Diego County Water Authority  
10:45 a.m. – 11:45 a.m. | Labor and Employment

There are approximately 2,487,100 government workers in California. Labor and employment lawyers who work with public agencies provide advice and guidance on the rights and duties of the government employer and employee. This session will cover the basics of labor and employment law in the public sector, including hiring practices, discipline and termination, anti-discrimination, and labor union issues.

  • Speaker:  Kate Stanford, Marin City Counsel, and Sarah Anker, County of Marin

Lunch and Keynote Speaker

Devora Navera Reed

Devora Navera Reed serves as the General Counsel for the Los Angeles Unified School District. She has been serving the Los Angeles Unified School District since 2006 and previously held the position of Chief Education and Legal Services Counsel. Ms. Navera Reed oversaw legal issues and litigation in areas dealing with special education, school law and operations, charter schools, equity and access, and constitutional issues, to name a few. As General Counsel for the Los Angeles Unified School District, Ms. Navera Reed is responsible for administering and overseeing the legal activities of the Los Angeles Unified School District’s legal staff and outside legal firms.

In addition, she advises the Los Angeles Unified School District Board, Superintendent, and senior leadership related to matters of major importance to the Los Angeles Unified School District. Prior to joining the Los Angeles Unified School District in 2006, Ms. Navera Reed served as an attorney for the Children’s Law Center of Los Angeles for nearly a decade, where she represented and advocated for children in dependency court and the foster care system. In addition to her legal responsibilities, Ms. Navera Reed serves as a board member of the California Minority Counsel Program promoting diversity, equity and inclusion in the legal field. Ms. Navera Reed earned a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Southern California in 1992 and a Juris Doctorate degree from the University of San Francisco School of Law in 1996. 

Litigation Track

1:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m. | Consumer Protections

Discussion with Assistant Chief Counsels Dan O’Donnell and Boryana Arsova from the California Department of Financial Protection and Innovation (DFPI) will include DFPI cases such as: $30 million Silver Saddle Ranch Investment Fraud, fraud by mortgage loan originators, cryptocurrency, and advice for attorneys interested in consumer protection litigation.

  • Moderator:  Steven Vong – Public Law Executive Committee, California Lawyers Association
  • Speaker: Dan O’Donnell, DFPI; Boryana Arsova, DFPI
2:15 p.m. – 3:15 p.m. | Tort Liability

This session will provide an overview of Tort Liability from the perspective of a City as a defendant. Topics will include risk assessment, expert testimony, and settlement strategies.

  • Speaker: Sari Myers – Folsom City Attorney’s Office
3:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m. | Writs
  • Speaker: Patricia UrseaBB&K Law

Public Trust Track

1:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m. | PRA, Part I

Details TBA

  • Speaker: Jolie Houston – Berliner Cohen
2:15 p.m. – 3:15 p.m. | PRA, Part II

Once attendees understand the fundamentals of the California Public Records Act, this session delves further into the pitfalls of public records in today’s digital space. In this session, attendees will learn the unique ways public agencies and elected officials have to use technology while maintaining transparency, including law enforcement agencies who now face a heightened standard of openness.

  • Speakers:  Katey Rusch, Reporter, Investigative Reporting Program at UC Berkeley
3:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m. | Conflicts of Interest
  • Speaker: Christina Cameron – Devaney Pate Morris & Cameron

Operations Track

1:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m. | Planning & Land Use (CEQA)

The California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) requires public agencies to consider the environmental impacts of their actions before approving certain plans or policies or committing to a course of action on a project.  CEQA is intended to inform elected officials, decision makers, and the public about the potential environmental impacts of such plans, policies, and projects, and to reduce those impacts to the extent feasible.  This session will provide an overview of the substantive and procedural requirements of CEQA and highlight the public agency attorney’s role in counseling its clients through the CEQA process.   

  • Speaker: Leslie Walker – City of Sacramento
2:15 p.m. – 3:15 p.m. | Public Finance

Public agencies utilize a variety of mechanisms to raise revenues to fund essential public projects and services, including taxes, bonds, assessments, fees, and other charges.  In practice, this requires public agency attorneys to counsel their clients through a number of challenging legal issues, including significant federal and state constitutional limitations.  This session will cover the fundamentals of public finance laws and the public agency attorney’s role in counseling clients through the public financing process.  

  • Speakers:  Vanessa Legbandt – Partner, Stradling Yocca Carlson Rauth
3:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m. | Elections

Most public agencies oversee annual or biennial elections, including for elected offices, such as a mayors, councilmembers, and board members, and for various ballot measures, including sales tax increases, bond financing, and other proposed changes to statutes, codes, and other laws. The election law attorney’s practice touches on a wide range of constitutional issues fundamental to our democratic processes. This session will cover the basics of election law in the public sector, including the electoral system, voting rights, redistricting, ballot propositions, and campaign rules.

  • Speakers: Stephanie Smith – BB&K, LLP; John Priest, BBK, LLP
4:30 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. | Closing Remarks
  • Speaker: Christine Wood, Conference Co-Chair

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