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2023 Rising Attorney Jessica Oliva

By San Diego FBA Public Relations Committee Member Sydney Martin

Our Chapter is proud to introduce the recipient of the 2023 Rising Attorney Award, Jessica Oliva.

The Rising Attorney award recognizes an outstanding attorney who has demonstrated a commitment to the legal profession through excellent advocacy and service to the local community. The recipient must have been admitted to the bar for no more than 7 years at the time of nomination and served as counsel of record in at least one case before the U.S. District Court or U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of California.

Jessica, a North Hollywood native, graduated from U.C. Berkeley with both her B.S. in Environmental Economics and Policy and her J.D. Immediately after graduating from UC Berkeley School of Law, Jessica clerked for U.S. District Judge Barry T. Moskowitz in the Southern District of California. After her clerkship, she joined the Federal Defenders of San Diego, where she has worked since 2018.

Since starting at the Federal Defenders, Jessica has been involved in four jury trials and two bench trials, with her participation being essential in the dismissal of cases and acquittal of criminal defendants. Jessica also recently won a case in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, United States v. Sanchez, No. 21-50205, 2022 WL 16945894, at *2 (9th Cir. Nov. 15, 2022), based on her effective written and oral advocacy regarding procedural error.

Inspired by her parents’ immigration to this country from Guatemala nearly 40 years ago, Jessica has dedicated her practice to helping alleviate the injustices immigrant and communities of color face. She has given back to the broader legal and San Diego communities by volunteering her time. For example, she has been the co-presenter of the Supreme Court and Ninth Circuit Case Review for the Annual CJA Training Seminar in the Southern District for multiple years. She authored the “Special Considerations in Representing Noncitizens” Chapter of the 2023 Edition of Defending a Federal Criminal Case written by the Federal Defenders of San Diego. She has also taken her service to the nation’s capital, serving as faculty at the national Diversity Fellowship Training Program, teaching about immigration offenses and federal sentencing guidelines.

When Jessica is not being an amazing Rising Attorney, she spends her time cycling, hiking, and spending time with her family, which now includes a newborn.

We are thrilled to have Jessica as one of our FBA members, and the San Diego FBA is pleased to have awarded Jessica (and her new baby!) with this year’s Rising Attorney Award.


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