Photo of Judy V. Davidoff

Judy V. Davidoff

Special Counsel



  • J.D., Boston College, 1977, with honors
  • B.A., State University of New York, Albany, 1973, summa cum laude
  • San Francisco Bar
  • California Bar
  • The District of Columbia Bar
  • Massachusetts Bar
Thought Leadership


Judy V. Davidoff is a special counsel in the San Francisco office and a former member of the firm's Executive Committee. She previously served as Practice Group Leader for the Real Estate, Land Use, Natural Resources and Environmental practice group firmwide.

Areas of Practice

Judy's practice emphasizes land use, environmental, and development law. She focuses on all aspects of state and federal land use and environmental matters, including CEQA/NEPA compliance, climate change, natural resources, air and water law, public trust and coastal matters, endangered species, cultural and historic resources, initiatives and referendums, public land permitting, and administrative proceedings and litigation.

Judy has worked on a wide variety of significant land use projects throughout California, including destination resorts, regional shopping centers, office and industrial parks, telecom facilities, new towns, residential, mixed use and golf course developments, waste management facilities, coastal developments, hi-tech campuses, and long-range strategic plans for developers and non-developer institutions and groups. She is an expert on CEQA compliance and has advised on the legal adequacy of hundreds of EIRs for projects throughout California. Judy also specializes in litigation and has handled a number of significant land use and environmental cases, including co-authoring the briefs in the landmark California Supreme Court CEQA case of Citizens of Goleta Valley v. Board of Supervisors of Santa Barbara County. She regularly appears before the California Coastal Commission and related coastal regulatory agencies. Judy is the author of numerous publications relating to CEQA, environmental issues and climate change, and frequently lectures on land use issues.

Prior to joining Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton LLP, Judy was a partner with Steefel, Levitt & Weiss practicing in the Land Use and Real Estate Group. Earlier, Judy was an international partner with Baker & McKenzie practicing in the California Land & Resources Group in San Francisco. From 1977-1989, she was in-house counsel for the Forest Service, specializing in natural resources matters.


  • Northern California Super Lawyers, San Francisco Magazine, 2005-2018
  • Best Lawyer in America (Land Use & Zoning Law), Best Lawyers, 2012-2020
  • Top Women Super Lawyers, Northern California, 2015
  • Leading Real Estate and Construction Lawyer, Legal 500, 2015
  • Northern California Real Estate Women of Influence Hall of Fame, San Francisco Business Times, 2013
  • Top Development Lawyers, Daily Journal, 2014
  • Northern California Top Women Lawyers, 2012
  • Leading Environmental Practices Lawyer, The Recorder, 2012
  • Top Women Lawyer 2011, 2012, Daily Journal
  • Northern California Real Estate Women of Influence, San Francisco Business Times, 2011
  • Land Use Leader 2011, Daily Journal
  • AV Rated, Martindale-Hubbell (highest rating an attorney can receive for legal quality and ethics)
  • Lambda Alpha International, an honorary real estate economics society

Thought Leadership


  • "Rapanos v. U.S.: Wading Through the Swamp of Federal Regulation of Wetlands." Real Property Law Vol. 29, No. 6 (November 2006): 379-385
  • "Attention Developers: Your Tentative Map May Be in Jeopardy - Or May Have Expired." California Real Property Journal Vol. 22, No. 2 (Spring 2004): 33-36
  • "SB 975: Is it Bad News for California Real Estate Development?" Real Property Law Vol. 25, No. 6 (September 2002): 179-186
  • "Environmental Movement Is Catching Up To Wineries." North Bay Business Journal 29 July 2002: 18
  • "Hurdles To Development In San Francisco." CREW San Francisco (2002): 4
  • "Wetlands Decision May Simplify Permitting." Real Estate Northern California (May 2001): 33
  • "How Citizens of Goleta Valley v. Board of Supervisors Changed the California Environmental Review Process." Southwestern University Law Review Vol. 26, No. 1 (1996)
  • "Environmental Review After Goleta." Southwestern University Law Review Vol. 21, No. 3 (1992)
  • "Environmental Review After Goleta." CEB Real Property Law Reporter (July 1991)

Real Estate & Construction Law Blog Posts

Media Mentions

Speaking Engagements

  • Panelist, "What Have We Learned Since 2008 - Current Thoughts on Dealing with Entitlement Hurdles," ICSC Monterey 2014
  • Panelist, "Retail Trends and Insights, Land Use Issues," CIRE 2014
  • Panelist, "Think Smaller," ICSC 2013 California Retail Leasing Symposium
  • Discussion on Retail From Top to Bottom, CIRE
  • "Entitling Big Box Retail Projects in California - A Report from the Front Lines," Real Estate Roundtable
  • Moderator, "Senate Bill 375 - The Demise of Local Land Use Control?", International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC)
  • Moderator, "Tenant Mix-Market or Municipality, Who Decides," International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC)
  • Panelist, "Managing Real Estate Transitions," CREW San Francisco
  • "Land Use Issues for Development Projects - The Latest Issues and Trends," Real Estate Round Table
  • "Real Estate and Land Use Trends," CREW San Francisco
  • "Hot Topics In Land Use," International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC)
  • "Land Use Issues," University of California
  • "Land Use Trends and Key Issues," Environmental Law Section - State Bar of California
  • "Life of a Real Estate Deal," Lorman


  • Past-President, CREW-SF (Commercial Real Estate Women)
  • CREW - Governance Committee, 2009-2010
  • CREW-SF Board, 2000-2005
  • Member, Lambda Alpha International
  • Member, Northern California ICSC Program Committee
  • Member, CEB's Real Property Advisory Committee
  • Substantive Editor, California Real Property Journal
  • ICSC (International Council of Shopping Centers) Sponsorship Chair, Monterey Idea Exchange 2012
  • Member, ICSC (International Council of Shopping Centers)
  • Member, ULI (Urban Land Institute)
  • Member, San Francisco Planning and Urban Research Association (SPUR)
  • Member, National Association of Women Lawyers (NAWL)
  • Member, San Francisco Bar, Environment, Water Law and Real Property Sections