Joseph Lawrence Appointed City Attorney
He is very familiar to local government after serving 31 years in the city’s legal department
September 30, 2021
By Jack Simon
Santa Monica will soon have a new interim City Attorney but a familiar face to local city government.
The City Council is expected to appoint Joseph P. Lawrence as Interim City Attorney at its next meeting on September 28, according to city officials. Lawrence will replace interim City Attorney George Cardona who announced recently he was leaving his post on September 30.
“Lawrence has specialized skills and a unique understanding of city and the position of City Attorney,” said city officials.
Lawrence previously served as Santa Monica’s Assistant City Attorney from 1986 to 2017, including two stints as Interim City Attorney from 1992 to 1994 and from 2016 to 2017.
At Tuesday night’s meeting, the Council is expected to approve the contract agreement with Lawrence, effective October 1 and continuing until the completion of the recruitment for a permanent City Attorney, officials said.
Lawrence will be paid an hourly rate of $130.82, which equates to an annual salary of $272,112, said city staff.
Prior to coming to Santa Monica in 1986, Lawrence spent a decade protecting the legal rights of underrepresented groups. He worked as a staff attorney for the ACLU of Southern California and for the New Haven Legal Assistance Association before coming to California.
He also served as a visiting professor and director for the Western Law Center for Disability Rights at Loyola Law School (1984 – 1986).
In April 2020, Cardona was appointed interim City Attorney to replace City Attorney Lane Dilg, who was appointed to serve as Interim City Manager. She left her post in this past June as she relocated with her family to Washington D.C.