Holly Whatley is a Shareholder of the firm and serves as Independent Legal Counsel to the County of Los Angeles Citizens Redistricting Commission and General Counsel to San Diego County LAFCO. She has practiced law since 1992. She was previously City Attorney of La Habra Heights and Assistant City Attorney of Calabasas. She heads the firm’s Litigation Department, focusing on public law disputes including post-redevelopment and other municipal finance issues, water issues, matters involving Local Agency Formation Commissions (LAFCOs), land use, California Public Records Act, CEQA, election, public works and employment law disputes. In 2013, the last year it bestowed the honor, the Daily Journal recognized her as one of the top 20 municipal lawyers in California for her leading role in appellate litigation involving issues important to the municipalities throughout the state.
Holly has a particular expertise in litigating complex cases in a broad range of areas, including class actions against public agencies. She has represented cities in municipal finance litigation, including writ actions involving multi-million-dollar claims. Recent engagements include defending a large municipal water utility in multiple class action challenges to its rates, successfully establishing a voter initiative set wastewater utility rates unlawfully low and was therefore unenforceable and successfully defending a challenge to the validity of business improvement districts. She has significant experience in utility and other rate-making disputes including matters involving water, wastewater and solid waste rates, and other municipal revenue disputes. She also has significant experience in land use and CEQA disputes. Holly has also represented state agencies in defending sexual harassment and retaliation claims and defending their employees from civil rights claims. She also has significant expertise in litigation regarding LAFCO law, including suits challenging annexation decisions.
Holly also leads the firm’s Elections Law practice and has litigated countless elections disputes, including initiative proposals, ballot argument disputes, and both pre- and post-election challenges to the substantive validity of initiatives.
Holly is currently a member of the Revenue and Taxation Policy Committee of the League of California Cities. She served on the Board of the City Attorneys Association of Los Angeles County from 2016-2020. Holly served on the Municipal Law Institute Committee of the City Attorneys Department of the League of California Cities from 2016-2018, the last two years as its chair.
Education: Holly graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree cum laude from the University of Texas at Austin in 1988. She received her J.D from the University of Texas School of Law in 1992 and joined the California Bar that same year. While in law school, Holly taught legal research and writing to first-year students.
- Complex Litigation, including Class Action Defense
- Election Law
- LAFCO Law
- Public Finance Law
- Employment Law
- California Public Records Act
- Land Use / CEQA
- Intellectual Property