Court Admissions

  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
  • U.S. District Court for the Central District of California
  • U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California
  • U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California
  • U.S. Court of Federal Claims, Washington D.C.
  • California Court of Appeal, Fifth District
  • All courts of the State of California

Mary F. Lerner

Partner | Fresno

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Tel: 559.431.5600
Fax: 559.261.9366
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Mary F. Lerner is a partner in Lozano Smith’s Fresno office and serves as co-chair of the firm’s Governance Practice Group. Ms. Lerner is also a member of the firm’s Municipal, Facilities and Business, and Labor and Employment Practice Groups. Ms. Lerner advises clients regarding a wide-range of issues affecting public agencies.


Ms. Lerner’s practice is focused on civil litigation (including the use of Alternative Dispute Resolution - arbitration and mediation), contracts, health insurance law, bankruptcy/representation of creditors, and general counsel for public agency clients throughout California. In addition, she assists clients in defense of issues related to the Americans with Disabilities Act.


Ms. Lerner obtained her Juris Doctor degree from the San Joaquin College of Law. She graduated from California State University, Fresno with a Bachelor of Science degree in Political Science.

Community Involvement

Ms. Lerner is an adjunct professor at the University of Phoenix, where she teaches Business Law (undergraduate and graduate levels) and Ethical Legal Topics (undergraduate level). She also serves as a faculty mentor to new faculty. Ms. Lerner also partners with the Fresno County Bar Association on various civic engagement opportunities, including the Speaker’s Bureau, where she works on projects with local high school students.

Plaintiffs with Late Tort Claims Take a Hit

By: Mary LernerSophia Cohn-

May 2020 Number 39 A would-be plaintiff’s ability to obtain relief from the government claim presentation requirement (the Government Claims Act, Gov. Code, § 810, et seq.) has been limited by the California Court of Appeal. In Lincoln Unified School Dist. v. Superior Court (2020) 45 Cal.App.5th 1079, the court held that a plaintiff may not request that a court waive the six-month time limit for submitting a claim to a public entity for reasons different than the plaintiff pres...

New Brown Act Case Clarifies Brown Act’s Pending Litigation Exception When Litigation is Orally Threatened

By: Mary LernerRyan Harrison, Sr.-

April 2020Number 27On February 10, 2020, the California Court of Appeal decided Fowler v. City of Lafayette (2020) __ Cal.App.5th __, concluding a five-year dispute among neighbors involving the construction of a tennis court cabana on private residential property. Neighbors opposing the project challenged it at every stage in the review process. In the end, the disagreement embroiled the City of Lafayette (the City) in Brown Act litigation. On appeal, the case established new precedent gover...

How to Address COVID-19 with Your Governing Board: Brown Act Reminders

By: Mary LernerAnne CollinsJerome Behrens-

*** UPDATED AS OF 3/27/20 *****This Client News Brief (CNB) supersedes and replaces the prior CNB on this topic based on the new Executive Orders and public health officer directives.March 2020Number 13BackgroundWith growing concerns over the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), many public agencies are closely monitoring guidance and updates from health and science officials. The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) along with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ...

AB 1600 Modifies Pitchess Motion Filing Deadlines and Expands Potential Access to Peace Officer Personnel Records

By: Mary LernerTravis CochranBenjamin Brown-

January 2020Number 7Assembly Bill (AB) 1600, which took effect on January 1, 2020, shortens the filing timelines for Pitchess motions in criminal matters and renders the personnel records of supervisorial officers potentially discoverable.BackgroundPitchess motions are written requests for the discovery of peace officer or custodial officer personnel records. Prior to the passage of AB 1600, Evidence Code section 1403 required that a criminal defendant file written notice of a Pitchess motion...

The 7 Things Every Elected Board or Council Member Should Know

By: Mary LernerAnne Collins-

Host Devon Lincoln talks with Lozano Smith partners Mary Lerner and Anne Collins, co-chairs of the firm’s Governance Practice Group, about the basics that every newly elected member of a local agency governing body should know when assuming office. This podcast isn’t just for newly electeds – it’s full of information for public officials, local agency staff, and members of the voting public too.

Navigating the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act in California

By: James SanchezMary Lerner-

Lozano Smith attorneys discuss some of the important aspects of California’s future and complex history with groundwater. Topics include the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA), Groundwater Sustainability Agencies (GSA), pre-1914 water rights, and CEQA issues and evaluations. Additionally, they dive into various considerations as local governments adopt general plans and make decisions affecting groundwater and land use.