A city attorney serves as chief legal counsel for a city. They provide legal guidance to city officials, departments, and agencies, ensuring compliance with laws and regulations. Their responsibilities include drafting laws, reviewing contracts, and representing the city in litigation. City attorneys also manage legal risks, uphold ethical standards, and contribute to public policy decisions. Their role is vital in maintaining the legality and integrity of municipal operations and governance. 

McGeorge School of Law proudly celebrates the impressive achievement of having six alumni currently serving their communities as city attorneys. 


Dean R. Derleth, ‘92 (Corona, CA)

Derleth has served as Corona’s city attorney since 2012. Prior to this, he was partner at Best Best & Krieger LLP for over two decades.  


Mara W. Elliott, ‘94 (San Diego, CA) 

Elliott made history as the first woman, mother, and Latina elected as the San Diego City Attorney. She is nationally recognized for her leadership in preventing gun violence and her advocacy for victims of domestic violence.


Sarah Knecht, ‘88 (Santa Barbara, CA) 

Knecht has been serving as Santa Barbara’s city attorney since 2022. In 2023, she was appointed interim city administrator during the city’s nationwide search. 


Jonathan P. Hobbs, ’96 (Elk Grove, CA)

Hobbs became Elk Grove’s City Attorney in 2016. Prior to this, he was a shareholder at the Sacramento-based law firm of Kronick, Moskovitz, Tiedemann & Girard, primarily representing cities and other public agencies.


The Hon. Michelle M. Sheidenberger, ‘97 (Roseville, CA) 

The Hon. Sheidenberger has served as Roseville’s city attorney since 2021, recognized for her adept management of the city’s shift to district-based elections. Prior to this role, she distinguished herself as a federal judge in Sacramento. 


William A. Vaughn, ‘81 (Los Banos, CA) 

Vaughn has been the city attorney of Los Banos since 2003, bringing extensive experience in child custody, malpractice, and general law practice. 



Throughout 2024, the University of the Pacific McGeorge School of Law will celebrate members of its vast alumni network in honor of the school’s 100-year anniversary. This post is part of a series highlighting 100 exceptional McGeorge School of Law alumni.   

Stay tuned for more blog posts as we celebrate the law school’s centennial anniversary.