Top deputy city attorneys Smith, Delventhal win prestigious professional honors

Two major international professional associations will bestow back-to-back honors this week on Chief Assistant City Attorney, Government Team Chief

SAN FRANCISCO (Sept. 30, 2013) — Two top deputies in the San Francisco City Attorney’s Office will receive back-to-back honors this week from two separate international professional organizations.

Chief Assistant City Attorney Jesse Capin Smith will receive the International Public Official Award from Lambda Alpha International, an honorary society of land use and economics professionals. Since its founding in 1930, LAI has recognized leaders worldwide for professional achievements in land economics, conservation and responsible development. Prospective award recipients are nominated from among nearly two dozen chapters throughout North America and Europe, with honors presented to the ultimate winner at the society’s Biennial Congress, which begins in San Francisco later this week. As the 2013-14 recipient of the International Public Official Award, Smith is being recognized for his significant efforts and notable contributions to improve the quality of urban life. The award will be presented in at LAI’s biennial Gala Dinner on Saturday, Oct. 5, 2013. Another local award-winner, San Francisco Chronicle urban design critic John King, will receive the society’s International Journalism Award.

As Chief Assistant City Attorney, Smith oversees advice and transactional divisions within the City Attorney’s Office, which encompasses all legal opinions for city elected officials, departments and commissions. Smith has acted as the City’s lead lawyer on public and public-private partnership developments that include the Giants ballpark, the Mission Bay mixed use project, the Westfield Centre redevelopment project and the San Francisco courthouse building. He has been previously recognized as a California Lawyer of the Year, and has been honored on multiple occasions as a Northern California “Super Lawyer.” A real estate attorney for more than 25 years since earning his juris doctor from Stanford Law School, Smith has served as chief assistant city attorney since 2000.

Separately, the International Municipal Lawyers Association will honor Government Team Chief Attorney Burk E. “Buck” Delventhal with its Charles S. Rhyne Lifetime Achievement Award. The recognition, awarded only on rare occasions, is the highest professional honor offered by IMLA, which is the preeminent non-profit professional organization for local government attorneys in North America. With more than 1,400 members in the United States and Canada, IMLA offers continuing legal education courses, research services, and litigation assistance. The Charles S. Rhyne Lifetime Achievement Award “for recognition only upon a truly uncommon individual” is named for IMLA’s founder, a legendary legal community leader who served as special counsel to President Dwight D. Eisenhower and was appointed in 1971 to serve as the United Nations’ High Commissioner on Refugees.

Delventhal’s decades-long work at the City Attorney’s Office has seen him argue numerous landmark cases on San Francisco’s behalf before the California Supreme Court, California Courts of Appeal, and the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals. He has led the City Attorney’s Government Team since its formation in the late 1970s, and his expertise with the myriad issues related to municipal and state law has made his counsel among the most sought-after in California among county counsels, city attorneys and other public lawyers. Delventhal will receive the award at IMLA’s Award Luncheon on Tuesday, Oct. 1 at the San Francisco Hilton Union Square. IMLA’s annual international conference began here yesterday.

“I’ve said many times that it has been the honor of my career to lead an office with such incredibly talented public servants, and Jesse Smith and Buck Delventhal are as talented as they come,” said San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera. “I know I speak for all of us in the City Attorney’s Office when I say how proud we are of both of them for these well-deserved, international honors. Those of us who work with Jesse and Buck are well aware of their consummate professionalism and dedication to public service. I hope these awards help expand public awareness for everything they’ve done — and continue to do — to improve the lives of San Franciscans and countless others.”

The San Francisco City Attorney’s Office was honored by the American Bar Association in 2007 with a national award for “outstanding excellence within the area of state and local government law over a lifetime of achievement.” The office has been described by American Lawyer magazine as “one of the most aggressive and talented city law departments in the nation,” and it includes numerous legal professionals whose work has been recognized for community and professional achievement. For more information, visit: