County Counsel Profiles
Assistant County Counsel
Anita Willis joined the office in August 2010 with over 18 years experience practicing municipal law. Ms. Willis provides advisory and litigation services for the Redevelopment Agency, including real property and non-construction contract matters. She also provides advisory and litigation services for the Economic Development Agency on Aviation issues, the Housing Authority, Workforce Development, and general municipal law issues.
Prior to joining the County Counsel’s office, Ms. Willis was principal in her own law firm for four years representing private and public entity clients, including the County. She served on the County’s legal team in (Gerard St. Marie v. Riverside County Regional Park and Open-Space District (2009) 46 Cal. 4th 282) which upheld the District’s right to sell property to Mt. San Jacinto College. She has also represented the County on litigation and transactional matters related to its airports. Ms. Willis has extensive experience in litigation and transactional matters in the areas of redevelopment, airports, community and economic development and real property matters.
Ms. Willis served as the City Attorney for the cities of Oceanside and Inglewood, having also served as Deputy and Assistant City Attorney in Oceanside. While serving in these positions, Ms. Willis also advised the Planning Commission while initiating practices and procedures to reduce the cities’ reliance on outside counsel and its exposure to litigation though employee education and training. She has also served as Adjunct Professor of Law at Loyola Law School teaching Trial Advocacy.
Ms. Willis honed her litigation skills while an attorney at the Century City firm of Mallory & Brown-Curtis, a small litigation defense firm which represented public entities, insurance companies as well as corporate clients. While at the firm she also served as Co-Bond Counsel for the Los Angeles Industrial Development Authority.
Prior to becoming an attorney, Ms. Willis served as Industrial Development Finance Officer/Program Manager for the City of Los Angeles Community Development Department managing commercial and industrial loan programs using CDBG and HUD Section 108 funds. She also managed the staff for Industrial Development Authority.
Ms. Willis served on the Editorial Advisory Board for the California League of Cities Municipal Law Handbook (2004-2007) serving as Chair (2006-2007). She was a member of the Oliver Wendell Holmes Chapter of Inns of Court (2001-2004); served on the Commercial Law Committee of the L.A. County Bar Association (1993-1994); the State Bar Committee on Access for Legal Professionals with Disabilities (2003-2004), and is currently a member of the Riverside County Bar Association. She volunteers at community legal clinics, and serves on the Board of Directors of St. Mary’s Academy, a catholic girls high school in Inglewood, CA.
Ms. Willis received her J.D. in 1992 from Southwestern University School of Law in Los Angeles, California, where she was a member of the Moot Court Honors program. She received her M.B.A. from California State University, Dominguez Hills and her B.A. from Philander Smith College, Little Rock, Arkansas with Distinction in her field.
Ms. Willis is admitted to practice in all state courts, the United States District Court for the Central and Southern Districts of California, and the United States Supreme Court.