We had the good fortune of connecting with Dwight Worden and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Dwight, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
I started a law firm in 1975. I wanted to make the world a better place, focusing on environmental issues. There were no existing law related opportunities to do environmental work on the “green” side” in San Diego at the time, so I started my own firm–Worden & Williams.
What should our readers know about your business?
I started an environmental law firm in 1975. I represented many environmental organizations, cities, and local governments on endangered species, habitat management, park planning, lagoon restoration, coastal act and other environmental projects. I served as city attorney for the city of Del Mar from 177-83, (and as the city’s Special Counsel for many years thereafter), at the time as one of the youngest city attorneys in the state. I was also appointed by the Governor in 1977 to serve as a public member of the Coastal Commission because of my environmental practice and expertise. I also served on the California Attorney General’s San Diego/Orange Counties Environmental Task Force, and I served on the Solana Beach Elementary School Board. I also authored several articles, edited a Lend Use Journal, and authored a treatise chapter on General Plan Law for a major law series. I also lectured extensively for local governments and law organizations. Another area of my specialty was local ballot measures. I drafted a dozen or more initiatives/referendums over the years for various cities throughout California, and I litigated cases on all these topics, some of which resulted in published precedential decisions. I retired from the active practice of law in 2001. In 2014 until the present I have served as an elected councilmember in the city of Del Mar, serving as Mayor in 2018. Mt career trajectory filled a void existing at the time I started my practice, filling a need for citizen groups, environmental organizations, and local governments to find qualified legal representation on important environmental issues on the “green side.” As a result, I was able to take on major water reclamation projects, park and open space planning, Coastal issues, and lagoon restoration work. My cases ranged from litigating to protect the Desert Pup fish in the Imperial Valley, to many cases for the Sierra Club, various chapters of the Audubon Society, California Native Plant Society, and the like, to being lead litigation counsel for the restoration of the Batiquitos Lagoon in Carlsbad, to representing cities in environmental litigation, to representing many citizen groups in a variety of cases. As well, I taught land use and environmental law at both Cal Western Law School, and USD law school. And, I served as Judge Pro Tempore in the superior Court system and as a mediator/arbitrator for the American Arbitration Association. I am most proud of developing expertise in the matters I worked on, and in bringing affordable legal help to those seeking to responsibly improve the environment. I am proud of teaching and mentoring young lawyers, and in building a successful private practice. at its peak my firm supported at its peak 6 lawyers and 20 people overall. That firm, Worden and Williams, still exists in Solana Beach although I am no longer affiliated. My approach in building the firm was a bit unique. I was committed to working with my friends and to assuring quality of life for all in the firm. It was very rewarding that we were able to achieve this for more than two decades while I was there, and that cultuyre of support continues today.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I would take a visitor to the Torrey Pines Reserve to see the beauty of our coast, beach and Torrey pine trees in a natural condition. I woud stop by UCSD to show off the campus art, the library, and maybe the gliders port. If interested, we woud visit the cool Scripps Aquarium, for sure tour La Jolla and enjoy lunch on an ocean view deck. I woud set aside a separate day for Balboa Park and all it has to offer. Mexican food would definitely be on the agenda! In the evenings we woudl visit one of the great bluegrass music venues to enjoy some home grown music. Time permitting, a trip to Pt Loma and the lighthouse could be in the cards, or maybe a day trip to Baja.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I credit my parents for motivating me to improve the world through law.
Other: My Bluegrass Band Prairie Sky” has a website at: http://prairieskyband.com/
Photo By Betty Wheeler