Kristina Lawson

Kristina D. Lawson

Managing Partner

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Real Estate
Real Estate
East Bay

Kristina specializes in complex entitlement, land use, environmental and municipal matters. Clients turn to Kristina for help with the interpretation and application of local General Plans, specific plans, zoning ordinances, and the Subdivision Map Act; local land use initiatives and referenda; and state and federal laws covering natural resources, air and water. She is a respected authority on California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) compliance and strategy.

Kristina represents clients in local, state and federal administrative and judicial proceedings throughout California, primarily in the Greater San Francisco Bay Area and California’s Central Valley. In addition to her land use practice, Kristina often advises clients on public policy and government relations strategy.

In addition to her professional work, Kristina is a former local elected official. From 2010–2014, she served on the city council and as the mayor of the city of Walnut Creek. Kristina also previously served on the Central Contra Costa Solid Waste Authority’s board of directors, on the Association of Bay Area Governments’ regional planning committee, and as the vice chair of the League of California Cities’ environmental quality policy committee. In 2015, Kristina was appointed by Governor Brown to the Medical Board of California and in 2020, she was elected President of the board.

Recognized in May 2019 by the San Francisco Business Journal as one of the Most Influential Women in the Bay Area, Kristina is also an active member of the Bay Area Council and Urban Land Institute and a frequent author and speaker on land use and environmental law topics.


"For Women, Leaving Big Law for a Midsize Firm Doesn't Mean Settling," The American Lawyer (August 2020)

"Project Approved Pursuant to SB 35 Streamlining Procedures Survives Court Challenge," co-author, Land Use Law Alert (May 2020)

"California Superior Court's Application of SB 35 to Los Altos Development Project Provides Encouragement to Housing Proponents," co-author, Land Use Law Alert (April 2020)

"Construction of Residential Care Facilities for the Elderly to Continue in Santa Clara County," co-author, Real Estate Law Alert (April 2020)

"Court Strikes Down Alameda Impact Fees in Boatworks, LLC v. City of Alameda" co-author, Land Use Alert (May 2019)

"Will CEQA Test Boring Co.'s Transit Projects?" author, (December 2018) 

"SB 50: As Housing Crisis Continues, Senator Weiner Announces Revised Upzoning Legislation," co-author, Land Use Law Alert (December 2018)

“The End of the Road for LOS Analysis of Traffic Impacts,” Environmental Leader (March 2016)

“California Cities Have Widely Variable Response to Housing Crisis,” Multi-Housing News (February 2016)

“The Housing Debate Heats up in California,” Western Real Estate Business (February 2016)

“California Legislature Debating 2015 Climate Leadership Legislation,” Environmental Leader (March 2015)

“Reform CEQA to help live with drought,” San Francisco Chronicle (January 2015)

“California’s New Energy Efficiency Challenge,” co-author, (January 2015)

“California Proposes Overhaul of Standards for Transportation-related Environmental Impact Analysis,” Environmental Leader (August 2014)

“Making Wine out of Water,” co-author, (April 2014)

“Regional Regulators Turn up the Heat,” Western Real Estate Business magazine (April 2012)

“Contemporary Zoning Conflicts – An Evolving Landscape Presents New Challenges,” Commercial Investment Real Estate magazine (January-February 2012)

“The Rise of the Responsible Agencies – CEQA Compliance in a Regional Focused Environment,” Environmental Liability and Enforcement Reporter (April 2011)

“Another Agency to Rain on Your Parade,” San Francisco Daily Journal (May 6, 2010)

“Women in Commercial Real Estate,” CREW Network Publication with the CREW Network Industry Research Committee (2010)

“Glass Ceiling or Sticky Floor, The State of Women’s Advancement in Commercial Real Estate,” CREW Network Publication with the CREW Network Industry Research Committee (2009)

“Buyer Beware,” Commercial Investment Real Estate magazine (May-June 2009)

“Back to Basics Due Diligence: Ensuring Use and Minimizing Risk,” California Real Estate Journal (May 2009)

“Repositioning Your Real Estate Career to Succeed in an Era of Change,” CREW Network Publication with the CREW Network Industry Research Committee (2008)

“CEQA’s Neverending Story – Post-Entitlement Enforcement of Mitigation Measures,” California Land Use Law and Policy Reporter (June 2008)

“Prohibiting Big Macs and Rollbacks: California’s Ever-Expanding Regulation of Retail End-Users,” California Land Use Law and Policy Reporter (December 2007)

“Climate Change: New Impact Laws Affecting Development Projects,” BUILDERnews magazine (July 2007)

“Thinking Globally When Acting Locally: How Will CEQA Adapt to a Changing Environment?” California Real Property Journal, Vol. 25, No. 2 (2007)

“‘Rapanos’ Wetlands Decision Doesn’t Void State Regulations,” San Francisco Daily Journal (July 2006)

“Settling With Certainty – California Courts of Appeal Grapple With Challenges to the Settlement of Land Use Litigation,” California Land Use Law and Policy Reporter (April 2006)

“Legislating a Density Bonus to Boost Affordable Housing,” San Francisco Daily Journal (September 2005)

“Cases Prove Need to Follow CEQA Requirements,” San Francisco Daily Journal (May 2004)

See All Publications


"The Future of California: Innovation and Equity," Moderator, Bay Area Council's 2021 Pacific Summit (June 2021)

“The Next Generation of Business Incentives,” co-presenter, MMANC Summer Symposium/CALED Regional Training (August 2019)

"Women Who Lead: Rising to the Top in Commercial Real Estate and Construction," co-speaker, San Francisco Business Times (July 2019)

“The Tale of Inspiring Women,” co-speaker, The Registry: Women in Focus (January 2019)

“CEQA Guidelines,” co-speaker, The Industrial Association of Contra Costa County (February 2018)

“CEQA and the People’s Voice: Developer Ballot Measures,” Environmental Law Conference at Yosemite (October 2016)

“Affordable Housing and Economic Vitality: What Are the Linkages? And What Are the Paths Forward in the Bay Area?,” Bay Area Council Economic Institute Breakfast Event, San Francisco (November 2014)

"The Impacts of the Dissolution of Redevelopment Agencies in California - What Does This Mean for Real Estate in California?," East Bay CREW Luncheon Meeting (March 2012)

"Bicycle Plans, Road Diets, and CEQA," Association of Environmental Professionals/Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (November 2011)

"Local, County and Federal Update on the Status of Public Policy on Business and Commercial Real Estate," East Bay Commercial Real Estate Women Luncheon Meeting (February 2011)

"CEQA & Climate Change," California Water Law & Policy Conference (April 2010)

"From Formula Businesses to Drive-Thrus to Docs-in-a-Box: Permitting Special Uses and Services in Today's Complex Regulatory Environment," ICSC Law Conference Roundtable (October 2008)

"Permitting Your Project: Basics of Bay Area Entitlement Processing," East Bay Commercial Real Estate Women Brown Bag Series (July 2008)

"Real Estate Development From Beginning to End," Lorman Education Services (February 2008)

"Air Quality, Water and Smart Growth," San Joaquin Valley Housing Symposium (January 2008)

"Update on Laws Addressing Climate Change and Their Impact on the Industrial and Development Sectors," Contra Costa Council Industrial and Environmental Task Force (August 2007)

See All Presentations


"BigLaw Pay Hikes Reach Mid-Law With $30k 1st-Year Bump," Law360 (October 2021)

"Hanson Bridgett Revamps Associate Compensation, Adding Productivity, Sabbatical Bonuses," The Recorder (October 2021)

"How 3 Mid-Size Firms Handled Succession Planning," Law360 (August 2021)

"At These Remote-Flexible Firms, Associate Development Takes a Front Seat," The Recorder (July 2021)

"California Firms Reassess Return to Work, Many With Vaccine, Mask Requirements," The Recorder (July 2021)

"The NLJ 500: With Exceptions, Big Firms Weathered the Pandemic Best," The National Law Journal (June 2021)

"Podcast: Kristina Lawson & Jennifer Martinez of Hanson Bridgett LLP," The Registry's Real Perspectives Podcast (May 2021)

"Leading Questions: Hanson Bridgett’s Kristina Lawson," Bloomberg Law (April 2021)

"In a Pandemic Year, Law Firms Gave Back Even More," Law Practice Today (March 2021)

"2020 Was A Big Year For 'First Female' BigLaw Leaders," Law360 (January 2021)

"In A First, Woman Takes Helm At Hanson Bridgett," Law360 (January 2021)

"Wave Of New Female Firm Leaders Continues Into 2021," Law360 (January 2021)

"Hanson Bridgett's New Leader On Her Plans At The Helm," Law360 (January 2021)

"Hanson Bridgett Names First Woman to Lead the Bay Area Law Firm," San Francisco Business Times (January 2021)

"What Pandemic? San Francisco Legal Market Stays Strong, Despite COVID," Of Counsel (October 2020)

"'Don’t Get Mad, Get Elected' – Lessons from Local Lawyers’ Campaigns for Office," Contra Costa County Bar Association’s October Magazine (October 2020)

"Leadership, Careers, and Women in Law Roundtable," Law Practice Today (June 2020)

"The NLJ 500: Where Are Women Winning?," The National Law Journal(June 2020)

"Short-Term Work Around or the New Normal? Firms Cope with Covid-19 Reality," The Recorder (March 2020)

"Hanson Bridgett Names First-Ever Female Managing Partner," Daily Journal (January 2020)

"Hanson Bridgett, a Likely Am Law 200 Addition, Appoints First Female MP," The American Lawyer (January 2020)"

"Prominent SF Law Firm Names New Leader," San Francisco Business Journal (January 2020)

"California Firm Noted for Diversity Record Hires First Female Managing Partner," The Global Legal Post (January 2020)

"Battleground: LA Development," Commercial Observer (December 2019)

"California Desperately Needs More Affordable Housing. Is More Coming in 2020?," HousingWire (December 2019)

"Women Who Lead in Real Estate: Attorney Kristina Lawson Downs Bay Area NIMBYism," San Francisco Business Times (July 2019)

"Calif. Housing Industry Watching Gov.'s $750M Incentive Plan," Law360 (March 2019)

"The State’s Suit Against Huntington Beach Is Just the Start ," GlobeSt. (February 2019)

"Officials overturn landmark designation for UC Berkeley’s Campanile Way," Berkeleyside (October 2018)

"Ex-Mayor Leaves Manatt For New Home at Hanson Bridgett," The Recorder (April 2017)

"Former Walnut Creek mayor joins Hanson Bridgett," Daily Journal (April 2017)

"Legal Challenge to Downtown Berkeley Mixed-Use High-Rise Struck Down," The Registry (2016)

"Judge Rules in CEQA Infill Case," GlobeSt (2016)

"CA Supreme Court Reverses Decision To Broaden CEQA," Bisnow (2016)

"Calif. Real Estate Legislation & Regulation To Watch In 2016," Law360 (2016)

"Court puts kibosh on CEQA expansion," San Diego Union Tribune (2015)

"State high court rules on scope of principle enviro law," Greenwire (2015)

"State Supreme Court sets limits on the reach of CEQA in unanimous ruling," Daily Journal (2015)

"State high court backs developers in environmental case," Sacramento Business Journal (2015)

"Airbnb Initiative Could Spur More Suits In San Francisco," Law360 (2015)


Best Lawyers in Northern California - Land Use & Zoning Law, Best Lawyers® (2019-2022)

Inspirator Award, The Bay Area CREW Chapters and The Registry's ELEVATE Awards (2020)

Most Influential Women in the Bay Area, San Francisco Business Journal (2019-2020)

Best Lawyers in America - Land Use & Zoning Law, Best Lawyers® (2019)

Northern California Super Lawyers, Land Use/Zoning (2016-2019)

Bay Area Power Women, Bisnow (2016)

Top 50 Development, Land Use and Municipal Infrastructure Lawyers, Daily Journal (2014)

Top 20 Under 40, Daily Journal (2014)

50 Lawyers on the Fast Track,The Recorder (2012)

40 Under 40, San Francisco Business Times (2012)

Rising Star, Northern California Real Estate Women of Influence (2011)

20 Under 40, Commercial Real Estate Women (CREW) Network (2010)

Rising Star, Northern California SuperLawyers magazine (2010–2012)

Professional Affiliations

Medical Board of California, President

Bay Area Council CEQA Reform Task Force

Contra Costa Council Land Use Task Force

Environmental Liability, Enforcement & Penalties Reporter, Contributing Editor (2008–2009)

California Water Law and Policy Reporter, Contributing Editor (2008–2009)

California Land Use Law and Policy Reporter, Contributing Editor (2005–2008)

East Bay Commercial Real Estate Women, Board of Directors (2006–2011)

State Bar of California

Contra Costa County Bar Association

American Bar Association

Academic Distinction

Order of the Coif


J.D., cum laude, Santa Clara University School of Law (2002)

B.A., University of Arizona (1998)

Admissions And Courts


East Bay

925-746-8474 Direct Phone
925-746-8494 Fax

San Francisco

925-746-8474 Direct Phone
925-746-8494 Fax

Email Attorney


Firm Leadership

Managing Partner

Green Building Practice Leader

Management Committee, Chair