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Sonia R. Carvalho is a partner in the Municipal Law practice group of Best Best & Krieger LLP. She serves as city attorney for the City of Santa Ana. She also served as city attorney of Claremont (1999-2017), Azusa (1998-2012), Colton (1998-2001) and Yorba Linda (2001-2010). 
As general counsel to municipal corporations, Sonia advises on all aspects of municipal law, but focuses on land use, ethics, open government and elections law.

Sonia is a frequent speaker on topics related to ethics, the Brown Act and land use issues. She instructs on various Continuing Education of the Bar land use and real estate courses, and writes and speaks on the topic of medical marijuana and land use regulation.

Sonia is a co-chair of BB&K's Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Committee. During law school, she served as editor-in-chief of the Chicano-Latino Law Review.

  • Southern California Super Lawyers, Women's Edition, 2023
  • Southern California Super Lawyers, State, Local and Municipal, 2009, 2011, 2014-2024
  • Top Women Lawyers, The Daily Journal, 2021
  • Municipal Law Lawyer of the Year in Orange County, Best Lawyers®, 2020, 2023
  • The Best Lawyers in America®, Land Use and Zoning Law and Municipal Law, 2016–2024
  • Municipal Law Lawyer of the Year in Irvine, Best Lawyers®, 2020
  • Orange County’s top lawyers, OC Metro magazine, 2009
Professional & Community Involvement
  • West End Legal Aid Clinic (volunteer legal services)
Thought Leadership


  • “The Role of City Attorneys: BB&K Municipal Law Attorneys Discuss on the Air” BBKnowledge, March 20, 2015


  • "The Imperative for Ethical Leadership Among Latino Policymakers," National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials Annual Conference, June 18, 2024
  • "I'm Not in Charge? How to Get Things Done!," League of California Cities Annual Conference and Expo, Sept. 8, 2022
  • "Do You Speak My Language? Language Inclusivity and Belonging in my Community," League of California Cities City Clerks New Law and Elections Seminar, Dec. 8, 2021
  • "Government Lawyers," University of California Irvine School of Law, Jan. 23, 2020
  • "Me Too - Time's Up," City of Riverside Executive Team, Jan. 22, 2020
  • "The Shifting Sands of Economic Development: Welcome to the “O”-Zone," City Managers Conference, League of California Cities, Feb. 14, 2019
  • Biennial National Institute for Newly Elected Officials, National Association of Latino Elected Officials, Nov. 17, 2018
  • "Fiscal Emergencies, AB506 and Mediation," BBK Avoiding Municipal Bankruptcy Series, Nov. 13, 2018
  • "Running for Office As a Woman Lawyer," Orange County Women Lawyers Association General MCLE Luncheon, March 9, 2018
  • "Cannabis Economics and Regulations," Annual Regional Mayor's Summit, April 5, 2017

Education & Admissions

University of California, Los Angeles School of Law
University of California, Irvine
B.A., cum laude (Phi Beta Kappa)
Bar Admissions



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