Helen M. Cavanaugh

(530) 208-5356


Helen Cavanaugh is an associate in our Municipal Advisory practice. Located in our Grass Valley office, she provides support for our Northern California general counsel clients of Auburn, Chico, Grass Valley, Lakeport and Yountville and a number of fire and other special districts. Her practice covers a range of municipal law issues, including land use, CEQA, public works contracting, and open meeting and records laws. Her current projects include a housing element update, the appointment of a city public health officer, HIPAA restrictions on release of information regarding COVID-19 patients, and public comment requirements for Brown Act bodies which do not have regularly scheduled meetings.

Having practiced in California for more than 25 years, Helen brings a varied background with a common thread of legislative work and public funding. Most recently, Helen was the Family Law Facilitator and Director of the Self-Help Center for the Nevada and Sierra County Superior Courts. Before that, she was the sole attorney for a nation-wide federal grant project, “Understanding AAP,” an education and advocacy for training for adoptive families of special needs children. She authored and updated “Understanding AAP; A Parent and Worker Guide.” Her initial legal training was as a litigation associate doing law and motion work for a civil defense firm.  She has also practiced as a temporary Deputy District Attorney, and solo practitioner specializing in administrative, public benefit and probate law.

She has participated as a board member for numerous non-profits, been a past officer of the Nevada County Bar Association, as well as having presented at numerous conferences and workshops. Most recent accomplishments include establishing (and dissolving) Northern California Legal Academy, a pilot incubator program for mentoring for new attorneys in rural communities.

Earlier appointments include invitations to participate with the Little Hoover Commission, Advisory Member for the Judicial Council Family and Juvenile Law Advisory Committee, Guardianship Workgroup of the Juvenile Law Subcommittee for the California Judicial Council, and the Governor’s Adoptions Initiative Project, Post Adoption Services Workgroup.

Helen received her J.D. from Southwestern University School of Law, and her B.S. from Northwestern University, majoring in Communication Studies, and Political Rhetoric. Before attending law school, Helen worked as a publicist in the entertainment field. Her four grown children have settled into their own lives. She now lives with her husband and cat in an 1880’s Victorian house, always in need of repair.

Practice Areas:

  • Public Law
  • Elections Law
  • Contracts
  • Public Works Contracting
  • Municipal Finance Law
  • Conflicts of Interest
  • Constitutional Law
  • Code Enforcement
  • Land Use, Planning, and CEQA
  • Open Meetings and Records Law
  • Special Districts