Practice Expertise

  • Government
  • Water Law

Areas of Practice

  • Government
  • Water Law

WSG Practice Industries


Named one of the "Top 25 Municipal Lawyers of California" by the Daily Journal in December of 2011, Joan has practiced in the field of municipal law for nearly 40 years with Hanson Bridgett.

Joan is the General Counsel for the San Mateo County Transit District, the Peninsula Corridor Joint Powers Board (commonly known as "Caltrain"), and the San Mateo County Transportation Authority. These agencies provide public transportation services and infrastructure on the Bay Area Peninsula, including a $1.7 billion project to electrify the Caltrain right of way from San Francisco to San Jose.

Since 1989, Joan has served as the City Attorney for the City of Millbrae. In addition, Joan is General Counsel for the Peninsula Traffic Congestion Relief Alliance, a transportation demand management joint powers authority of 17 cities and the County of San Mateo, and is the General Counsel for the Mid-Peninsula Water District. Joan has also served a number of cities and public agencies as special counsel, including San Carlos, Costa Mesa, Brentwood, San Luis Obispo, Berkeley, San Mateo County Mosquito Abatement District and the Woodridge School District. She is one of the Evaluators for the City of San Jose Elections Commission and in that role recommends disposition of complaints alleging ethical violations under the San Jose Municipal Code.

Joan understands the art of serving a client as General Counsel and she understands how local government agencies function. She is often called upon to provide guidance as special counsel when crises occur, such as employee embezzlements. Joan has expertise in a wide spectrum of issues including election law, environmental and real property matters, railroad operations, purchase of service and franchise agreements, public works projects, municipal finance, and government reorganization matters. She has represented both public and private entities in government proceedings involving all aspects of development, contracts, procurement, and bid protests.

Joan serves on the Board of Trustees of UC Hastings Law School. She was a founding member of the San Mateo Foster City Education Foundation and she has served on the Board of Trustees of Samaritan House which provides medical services, shelter, food and clothing assistance to those in need in San Mateo County, and serves on the Board of Trustees of the Unitarian Universalists of San Mateo.

Bar Admissions

  • California

J.D., University of California, Hastings College of the Law (1977)
B.A., Williams College and Wellesley College (1974)

Areas of Practice

  • Government
  • Water Law

Professional Career

Significant Accomplishments

City of Millbrae. As the City Attorney since 1989, she oversees all legal work and managed the real property acquisition and eminent domain cases for the Millbrae Overpass Bridge, a multi-million dollar railroad grade separation project.

Peninsula Corridor Joint Powers Board. Oversees and manages the legal services for the Caltrain commuter train operations capital improvements including an $800 million design build project to electrify the right of way, a $600 million electric vehicle procurement and attendant real property acquisition to implement project.

City of San Jose. Serves as the Evaluator for the Elections Commission. Recommends findings for all complaints alleging ethical violations under the San Jose Municipal Code.

Mid-Peninsula Water District. Serves as General Counsel to the Mid-Peninsula Water District.

Professional Associations
  • Bar Association of San Francisco, Member
  • Bay Area City Attorneys Association, former President
  • San Mateo County Bar Association, Government and Municipal Law Section, Member
  • Senator Dianne Feinstein's Judicial Advisory Committee for Northern California, Member
  • California Women Lawyers, Member
  • Queen's Bench Bar Association, Member

Professional Activities and Experience


"New Brown Act Reporting Requirements," Municipal & Public Agency Law Alert (March 2014)
"Declaring a State of Emergency: What You Need to Know," Government Law Alert (May 2011)

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