Jena Acos: Tracing a path through international environments
Shareholder, Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, Santa Barbara
City Attorney, Carpinteria
Education: UC Berkeley, Georgetown Law
Jena Acos’ journey has taken her from her hometown of Bend, Oregon to Berkeley, Brazil, Washington, D.C. and now Santa Barbara, where she is a shareholder with Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck and the city attorney for the city of Carpinteria.
She decided she wanted to go to UC Berkeley, so she studied hard enough to make that happen. At Berkeley, Acos double majored in Latin American studies and Spanish and Portuguese, and minored in environmental science and policy management.
Twice as an undergraduate, she traveled to Brazil to study agriculture and the environment, and one semester she tried, and failed, to grow 5 acres of peppers, without pesticides, planted among the trees.
“It was really tough,” she said. “I just remember being out there in rain boots, looking at my dying pepper plants.”
She did meet her future husband, a fellow UC Berkeley student, while in Brazil. After graduation they moved to Washington, D.C. for law school, where Acos attended Georgetown. She studied international law, but found it about as frustrating as farming in a rain forest.
“International law doesn’t have any teeth, and that’s really frustrating,” she said.
Acos shifted her focus to environmental law, and graduated from Georgetown with both a law degree and a master’s in public policy. She joined Brownstein’s Santa Barbara office in 2013 and became a shareholder in January.
She estimates that she spends about half of her time as Carpinteria’s city attorney and half with other clients. She and her husband and two young sons live just outside of Carpinteria.
PCBT: What’s the one thing you’ll remember from the past 18 months?
Acos: The Zoom bombs that my children do when I’m in the middle of meetings. … They’ll come in yelling that they need to use the bathroom.