Public Law

Public Law Journal: WINTER 2023, VOLUME 45, NUMBERS 2-3


Written by
Carmen L. Gibbs

It is an honor to serve as the Chair for the California Lawyers Association Public Law Section (PLS) for the 2022-2023 term. Public Law is one of the most dynamic sections within CLA, but many do not know what it means to be a public law attorney. We use the law to advocate on behalf of our clients who are often those who make and implement the laws that have a systemic effect on its constituents. Those clients may be cities, counties, state departments, the federal government, or special districts to name a few. Every California resident will touch some form of public law at least one time in their life. Therefore, it is vital that this area of law is more accessible and produces a high level of competency in its practice. In school, public law was an invaluable way for me to learn that the possibilities for attorneys are infinite. A lawyer can gain trial experience as a city attorney, county counsel, district attorney, or public defender. They can work as research attorneys and delve into the intricacies of the law. Public law attorneys can also create public policy in local, state, or federal government.

I have worked in public law for about 15 years in different capacities, including working for the superior court, nonprofit law firms, and for government. For the past 7 years, I have been working for state departments as general counsel ensuring that Californians receive the privileges of their residency, and that the government remains accountable in its promise to serve. These experiences have been a fundamental part of my growth as an attorney.

During my tenure as Chair, the Public Law Section Executive Committee plans to accomplish three goals. First, the PLS will elevate the status of public law practice throughout the state by highlighting successful attorneys and their accomplishments. The Committee awards the Ronald M. George Public Lawyer of the Year and an Outstanding Achievement in Public Law to deserving attorneys who use their skills and talents to achieve something bigger than themselves.

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