Thomas A. Willis

Thomas A. Willis

Thomas A. Willis is a partner specializing in election, redistricting, and campaign finance law. 

He has been campaign counsel for Governor Jerry Brown's two gubernatorial election campaigns, and for Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom's prior election campaigns and his current campaign for the governorship. 

In addition, Mr. Willis was counsel to the California Democratic Party from 2009 until 2017.  He also has advised many ballot measure committees, including the Governor's committees for Propositions 1 and 2 and Airbnb's committee opposing San Francisco's Measure F, and the San Francisco Giants' committees in support of Measure D (Mission Rock).  

Mr. Willis has litigated a number of important election law, redistricting and campaign finance cases, including successfully defending the California Legislature’s 2011 redistricting plan.  Lee v. City of Los Angeles, 88 F. Supp. 3d 1140 (C.D. Cal. 2015) (on appeal); Nadler v. Schwarzenegger, 137 Cal. App. 4th 1327 (2006); Cano v. Davis, 191 F. Supp. 2d 1135 (C.D. Cal. 2001); 211 F. Supp. 2d 1208 (C.D. Cal. 2002), aff’d., 537 U.S. 1100 (2003). 

His other notable cases include McDonough v. Superior Court, 204 Cal. App. 4th 1169 (2012) (challenge to ballot question for San Jose pension initiative); Americans for Safe Access v. County of Alameda, 174 Cal. App. 4th 1287 (2009) (defending county's recount procedures); Lindelli v. Town of San Anselmo, 111 Cal. App. 4th 1099 (2003) (contesting use of referendum for interim contract); People ex rel. Found. for Taxpayer & Consumer Rights v. Duque, 105 Cal. App. 4th 259 (2003) (defending members of CPUC from quo warranto).  

Mr. Willis is an expert on the California Voting Rights Act and advises a number of municipalities on compliance under the Act's requirements.  

Mr. Willis also advises state and local agencies on redistricting, election law, conflicts of interest, and initiatives and referenda.  Those clients have included Governor Brown, the State Assembly, the City of Oakland, the City of Richmond, the City of Redwood City, and San Francisco Unified School District.  Mr. Willis also represents clients before the Federal Elections Commission, the California Fair Political Practices Commission, and the San Francisco Ethics Commission.  He advises candidates, state and local agencies, campaign committees, initiative and referendum committees, corporations and nonprofits about these laws and the electoral process, including election procedures.

  • Education

    • Duke University (B.A. 1987)
    • University of Virginia School of Law (J.D. 1992)
  • Admissions

    • California

Representative Highlights+

Results described below were dependent on the facts of that particular case. Prior results do not guarantee or predict similar outcomes.