Alissa Bjerkhoel

California Innocence Project, California Western School of Law

Young Attorneys 2011: Practicing 3-5 years

Alissa Bjerkhoel, a native of Truckee, Calif., is an attorney for the California Innocence Project, based out of California Western School of Law. The project is a nonprofit, in-house law school clinic that investigates and litigates cases of factual innocence while training law students to be ethical, justice-driven advocates. To date, the project has been successful in exonerating nine factually innocent clients and has been recognized with several awards, as well as local, national and international media attention ( 

Bjerkhoel’s love for working in the area of indigent defense has also resulted in a panel attorney position for Appellate Defenders Inc., a nonprofit law firm that administers the appointed counsel system for the California Court of Appeal, Fourth Appellate District.

Over the course of her career, she has served as counsel on numerous criminal cases and has been successful in exonerating several wrongfully convicted clients. Bjerkhoel’s work was instrumental in the exonerations of Timothy Atkins (exonerated by a Los Angeles Superior Court judge in February 2007), Reggie Cole (exonerated by a Los Angeles Superior Court judge in April 2009) and Daniel Larsen (exonerated by a United States Magistrate judge in June 2010). 

Bjerkhoel was featured on San Diego Channel 6 News in the segment “Aid for Wrongfully Accused” (Feb. 22, 2010), on KPBS in the segment “The California Innocence Project and the Freedom of Reggie Cole” (April 8, 2010) and on San Diego’s KUSI News discussing the release of Reggie Cole (May 16, 2010). Her work on these cases and others helped earn her a role of supervising attorney in the California Innocence Project, where in addition to her own case load, she supervises more than 100 cases each year.

Prior to her work with the California Innocence Project, Bjerkhoel worked as a judicial extern for the Honorable Jan Adler, Magistrate Judge for the United States District Court for the Southern District of California; worked at the Defensoria Penal Publica de Santiago in Santiago, Chile, where she, along with others, drafted a treatise on evidentiary procedures in the United States as well as presented a seminar (“A Pragmatic Approach to Evidence”) to assist the public defenders in Chile; and worked as an intern at both a civil litigation law firm and a corporation. 

During her growing legal career, Bjerkhoel has received the Joe & Denise Walsh Excellence in Advocacy Award in recognition of her contribution and dedication to the California Innocence Project, the Hugh P. Chindlund Law School Service Award for outstanding service and commitment to California Western School of Law, the Wiley W. Manuel Award for Pro Bono Legal Services, and the Adrianne Baker Fellowship. She was named a Post Conviction Lawyer of the Year by the Criminal Defense Bar Association of San Diego.

The Daily Transcript congratulates Young Attorneys 2011

This is the culmination of a peer nominating process that asked San Diego County lawyers to name the best young attorneys in San Diego County who are: Hard-Working & Detail-Oriented, Knowledgeable & Enthusiastic, Ethical & Professional, and Committed to Furthering the Interests of Justice in Society.

Young Attorneys 2011 Finalists


Oleg Cross

Cross Law Group

Andrew Haden

United States Attorney’s Office

Anna Romanskaya

Stark & D'Ambrosio LLP

Practicing 1-2 years

Andrew Botros

Law Office of James D. Scott

Andrew Custer

Foley & Lardner LLP

Melissa Deleon

Deleon Law

Francis DiGiacco

Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd LLP

Brittanie McCloskey

Law Offices of Daniel Grunbaum

JP Roach

Hughes Marino

Joe Villaseñor

Legal Aid Society of San Diego, Inc.

Practicing 3-5 years

Amanda Allen

Hecht Solberg Robinson Goldberg & Bagley LLP

Alissa Bjerkhoel

California Innocence Project, California Western School of Law

Theresa Bowen

Carpenter Zuckerman & Rowley LLP

Jenny Bratt


Laura Buckley

Higgs, Fletcher & Mack

Robert Chambers, II

McClellan Law Firm

William Concidine

East Village Law Group

Craig Countryman

Fish & Richardson

AnneElise Goetz

Higgs, Fletcher & Mack

Catherine Hanna

Sullivan Hill Lewin Rez & Engel

Ryan Harris

Harris Personal Injury Lawyers

Sondra Levine

UTC Aerospace Systems

Jenna Leyton

Pettit Kohn Ingrassia & Lutz

Joseph McMullen

Seltzer Caplan McMahon Vitek

Julie Park

Morrison & Foerster

Matthew Riopelle

Foley & Lardner LLP

Kristin Rizzo

Rizzo Law Firm

Jason Ross

Higgs, Fletcher & Mack LLP

Andrea Russell

Kirby Noonan Lance & Hoge LLP

Puja Sachdev

Sachdev Legal Group APC

Michelle Schill

Martinez & Schill LLP

Kirsten Solberg

Luce, Forward, Hamilton & Scripps LLP

Tyler Theobald

Paul, Plevin, Sullivan & Connaughton

Robert Williams


Practicing 6-7 years

Alyson Amerson

Doyle Lowther LLP

Ilona Antonyan

The Law Office of Ilona Antonyan, APC

Jimmy Cheng


Bibianne Fell

Fleming & Fell PC

Ariel Javier

Law Office of Ariel A. Javier

Dan Kehr

Kehr Law

Brooke Kim


Chris Lawson

San Diego District Attorney's Office

Kate Mangan

Mayer Mangan

Megan Mazza

Allen Matkins

Ashley Palmer

Robbins Umeda LLP

Rachel Scatizzi

Seltzer Caplan McMahon Vitek

Brett Schreiber

Thorsnes Bartolotta McGuire

Jason Sheinberg

San Diego Law Firm

Sean Stapleton

Alere Inc.

Devin Storey

The Zalkin Law Firm PC

David Zachry

Procopio, Cory, Hargreaves & Savitch LLP

Get Involved

Don't miss this opportunity to recognize your peers or congratulate the San Diego Young Attorneys. Highlight your company's expertise by advertising or sponsoring Young Attorneys 2011.

Contact us at 619.232.4381 or to receive additional information today!

Important Dates

Nominations Open: September 14
Nominations Close: October 26
Nominees Announced: November 2
Finalists Notified: November 4
Sponsorship/Advertising: December 13
Publication Date: December 21


Past Events

Young Attorneys reception

Transcript reporter Doug Sherwin talks to Nadia P. Bermudez of the Brown Law Group LLP at the 2007 Young Attorneys reception.