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City Attorney's Biography

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City Attorney Dennis Herrera

As City Attorney of San Francisco, Dennis Herrera leads an office that the American Bar Association recognized for outstanding excellence in the area of state and local government law, and that American Lawyer magazine described as "one of the most aggressive and talented city law departments in the nation."

The first Latino ever to serve as San Francisco's City Attorney, Herrera was elected in 2001 on a pledge to defend the integrity of public institutions, to expand neighborhood protection efforts, and to enhance local government's accountability to its residents and taxpayers. But it has been several of his bolder, affirmative litigation efforts for which Herrera and his office have earned a national reputation.

Herrera filed the first ever government lawsuit to challenge the constitutionality of state marriage laws that discriminate against gay and lesbian couples. Over the course of nearly a decade of litigation, his leadership would prove instrumental in uniting nearly two dozen California cities and counties -- including 7 of the state's 8 largest cities -- in support of marriage equality for same-sex partners. He has been co-counsel in every phase of California’s legal battle over same-sex marriage, including the landmark state Supreme Court case that invalidated discriminatory marriage laws in 2008, and the U.S. Supreme Court decision that overturned Proposition 8 in 2013.

Herrera has mounted numerous consumer protection battles that have helped to achieve lasting reforms, including cases involving wage theft, credit card arbitration scams, illegal gun distribution, unlawful lending practices, fraudulent marketing, health insurance "gender rating," and auto insurance "ZIP Code profiling." He intervened alongside Planned Parenthood as the nation's only municipality to seek to strike down the Bush Administration's federal abortion ban. And his public integrity investigation and lawsuit on behalf of the San Francisco Unified School District blew the whistle on a nationwide scam to defraud the federal E-Rate program, which helps America's poorest school districts bridge the digital divide.

Consistently named among California's most influential attorneys, Herrera has also been honored by the Hispanic National Bar Association as its Attorney of the Year; the National Abortion Rights Action League as a "Champion of Choice"; the American Jewish Committee as a recipient of the Judge Learned Hand Human Relations Award; and by numerous LGBT civil rights organizations for his office's work to secure marriage equality in California.

Born November 6, 1962 in Bay Shore, New York, Herrera grew up in the nearby Long Island community of Glen Cove. He obtained his bachelor's degree at Villanova University in Pennsylvania, and went on to earn his juris doctor from the George Washington University School of Law in Washington, D.C. He was admitted to the California Bar in 1989.

With the inauguration of President Bill Clinton in January 1993, Herrera was appointed to the U.S. Maritime Administration in Washington, D.C., where he served under Transportation Secretary Federico Peña. Returning to San Francisco to practice maritime law, he was appointed to the City's Transportation Commission by then-Mayor Willie Brown, who later named him to the San Francisco Police Commission, where Herrera would go on to serve as Police Commission President.

Dennis Herrera and his wife, Anne, live in San Francisco's historic neighborhood of Dogpatch, with their son, Declan.

(Rev: Sept. 2013)

 

Last updated: 9/27/2013 11:59:43 AM