San Diego City Attorney Mara Elliott was named “public lawyer of the year” Wednesday by the California Lawyers Association, a group of more than 50,000 attorneys across the state.
Elliott, who is running for re-election in a November runoff against local private-sector attorney Cory Briggs, is the first San Diego city attorney to win this award since it was established in 1998.
The award is based on three criteria: providing outstanding service to the public, possessing an exemplary reputation in the legal community and demonstrating high ethical standards.
“Her distinguished career demonstrates a commitment to safeguarding taxpayer dollars and protecting the rights and safety of Californians,” said Alex Calero, chair of the Lawyers Association’s public law section. “Elliott is recognized as a national leader in preventing gun violence, a fierce champion for consumers, workers and the environment, and a staunch protector of victims of domestic violence and sex trafficking.”
The association also praised her for prioritizing consumer and environmental protection, and taking on corporate offenders.
Elliott said in a news release that she considers the award a special honor that she will share with her staff.
“Protecting the public has been the driving motivation behind my career in public service, and I’m deeply humbled to be recognized by my peers,” Elliott said.
She was nominated for the statewide award by the Lawyers Club of San Diego, with letters of support from the La Raza Lawyers Association of San Diego, District Attorney Summer Stephan and state Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez.
“Mara is the first woman, the first Latina, and the first mom to hold the office of San Diego City Attorney,” Gonzalez said. “Mara is as an inspiring example to others who want to serve, uplift and truly empower their communities, particularly by pursuing a career in public law.”
Elliott, who was elected city attorney in 2016, previously worked as legal counsel to the city, public schools, the Metropolitan Transit System and the county.
She is the daughter of a longshoreman father and immigrant mother, and she was the first in her family to graduate college. She has degrees from UC Santa Barbara and McGeorge School of Law.