2023 Witkin Awards: Mara Elliott

A photo of Mara W. Elliott, City Attorney of San Diego

Mara W. Elliott was named a Witkin Award winner in 2023 for Excellence in the Practice of Law. Mara has transformed the Office of the City Attorney with her passion for protecting San Diego families. She is a national leader in preventing gun violence, a fierce champion for consumers and the environment, and a staunch protector of victims of domestic violence and sex trafficking. As the first woman and first Latina City Attorney, Mara has fearlessly safeguarded taxpayer dollars, and advanced programs that keep our most vulnerable citizens safe, particularly elders who face abuse and exploitation.

In her first term, Mara launched San Diego’s pioneering Gun Violence Restraining Order (GVRO) program to prevent predictable shootings by keeping dangerous people from having guns. Through Mara’s leadership, the courts have removed hundreds of firearms, including assault weapons, from those who posed a threat to themselves and others, including stalkers, disgruntled employees, and potential school shooters. San Diego is credited for spurring much of the statewide growth in the use of GVROS.

As City Attorney, Mara relaunched the San Diego Family Justice Center, since renamed Your Safe Place, to bolster support for victims of domestic violence and expand its services to victims of sex trafficking. Every year, Your Safe Place helps hundreds of San Diegans obtain free legal assistance, counseling, and other support services in a safe and private setting.

For her exemplary reputation in the legal community and dedication to public service law, Mara was named 2020 Public Lawyer of the Year by the California Lawyers Association.

The daughter of a longshoreman father and immigrant mother, Mara was the first in her family to graduate college, attending University of California, Santa Barbara and McGeorge School of Law. Mara served as legal counsel to public schools, the transit district, and the County of San Diego. Mara was a Chief Deputy City Attorney before being elected in 2016. She completes her service as San Diego’s City Attorney in December 2024.