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The City Attorney

Biography of David Chiu

The first Asian American to hold the post, David Chiu leads an office that has been regarded as a national model for public law offices, bringing landmark cases to protect and expand the rights of San Franciscans while providing high quality legal counsel to about 100 city departments, boards and commissions.

The son of immigrant parents, Chiu grew up in Boston, Massachusetts. He received his undergraduate, master’s in public policy, and law degrees from Harvard University.

After receiving his law degree, Chiu went on to have a diverse set of legal experiences. He served as a civil rights attorney with the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area, a criminal prosecutor with the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office, Democratic Counsel to the United States Senate Constitution Subcommittee, a law clerk to Judge James R. Browning of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, and general counsel to a public affairs technology company.

After moving to San Francisco in 1996, Chiu became an active community leader in the city. He served as a Small Business Commissioner, president of the Asian American Bar Association of the Greater Bay Area, board chair of the Youth Leadership Institute, Lower Polk Neighbors and the Chinatown Community Development Center, and board member of Partners Ending Domestic Abuse and Chinese for Affirmative Action.

In 2008, Chiu won a seat on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors and was re-elected in 2012. With a reputation as a consensus maker, Chiu was selected on his first day in office by his fellow Supervisors to serve as Board President, became the first Board President in San Francisco history elected to three consecutive terms, and was the first Asian American to hold the post. As Supervisor, David Chiu authored 110 ordinances across a wide range of policy areas, including affordable housing, job creation, public safety, healthcare, the environment, transportation, civil rights, language access, ethics, and technology.

As a member of the California State Legislature, David Chiu represented a half million constituents in the 17th Assembly District, which encompassed eastern San Francisco. He was first elected in 2014 and re-elected in 2016, 2018, and 2020. During Chiu’s first year, he served as Assistant Speaker pro Tempore, and served as Chair of the Assembly Housing & Community Development Committee for six years. He was also selected to be Chair of the California Asian Pacific Islander Legislative Caucus and Policy Chair of the California Legislative Progressive Caucus.

During his seven years in the Assembly, Chiu authored 75 bills that were signed into law by the Governor. His bills addressed a wide spectrum of issues, including housing, homelessness, tenant protections, transportation, civil rights, consumer protections, education, the environment, health care, and public safety. Most notably, Chiu authored the Tenant Protection Act of 2019, which brought forth the largest expansion of tenants’ rights in California in decades.

He has been named a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum, an American Memorial Marshall Fellow, and one of the “Best Attorneys under 40” by the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association.

David Chiu is married to Candace Chen. A third generation San Franciscan, Candace is a public interest lawyer who manages a refugee foster care youth program. They are raising their son, Lucas, in San Francisco’s Bayview neighborhood.