March 1, 2024 Breaking News, Latest News, and Videos

Santa Monica Selects Joseph Lawrence as Interim City Attorney

Search for permanent City Attorney to begin soon

By Sam Catanzaro

At its meeting last week, the Santa Monica City Council appointed Joseph Lawrence as Interim City Attorney.

The move comes as George Cardona vacated the position September 30 after serving the City Attorney’s Office as Interim City Attorney since April 2020. 

“We need a City Attorney who can come in and hit the ground running and Joe can do just that. He is one of our longest-serving attorneys and leaders who knows every facet of our legal operations,” said Mayor Sue Himmelrich. “We are grateful Joe will serve Santa Monica once again as we conduct a national search for our next City Attorney.”

Lawrence returns to the role of Interim City Attorney after serving in the same capacity during the transition from City Attorney Marsha Moutrie to Lane Dilg in 2017. He started with the City Attorney’s Office in 1986 and during his more than 30-year career where he was promoted to the role of Assistant City Attorney, he was involved in all facets of the City’s most demanding legal issues. He led the legal effort that recovered nearly $400 million for water contamination and reached the historic settlement with the Federal Aviation Administration to close Santa Monica Airport in 2028.

“It is said that you can’t go back. True. But you can join those you once served and worked with to build back,” said Joe Lawrence. “I am honored and look forward to assisting the Santa Monica City Council, community, and particularly members of the City Attorney’s Office, as everyone emerges from the pandemic and transitions to new opportunities.”

Joe graduated from the NYU School of Law and earned his B.A. from the State University of New York at Buffalo. He began October 1 with a salary of $272,112.

A national recruitment will soon begin with a City Council subcommittee leading the charge.

Santa Monica has been without a permanent City Attorney since April 2020 when Dilg left the position to serve as Interim City Manager after the resignation of former City Manager Rick Cole. Cardona had been serving in the interim role but left the position to be chief trial counsel for the California Bar Association.

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