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Paula Canny

Attorney Profile

Top Rated Criminal Defense Attorney in Burlingame, CA

Law Office of Paula Canny
840 Hinckley Road, Suite 101
Burlingame, CA 94010
Phone: 650-652-7862
Fax: 650-652-7835
Selected to Super Lawyers: 2019 - 2022
Licensed in California Since: 1980
Practice Areas: Criminal Defense, Civil Litigation: Plaintiff, Criminal Defense: DUI/DWI, Estate Planning & Probate, Personal Injury - General: Plaintiff
Attorney Profile

Paula Canny is a zealous advocate of people from all walks of life in all type of cases.  She loves her clients.  She loves her causes. 

            Paula has over 40 years of legal experience and a life experience that spans far beyond courtrooms.  Her first and still abiding passion is State court criminal defense – defending people charged with crimes in any of California’s 58 Counties.

            Paula Canny has tried virtually every kind of criminal case; from DUI cases, to trespass, theft, drug charges to murder – you name it she has done it.

            Over the years, Paula came to understand the institutional failings of the California  Criminal Justice System.  She now works to reform the California Criminal Justice System. 

            Paula advocates for the humane treatment of jail inmates by bringing lawsuits against California Counties and the State of California.  Paula filed lawsuits against various California Counties to require Sheriffs to provide menstrual products to women inmates without charge.  It took two years of work.  Paula won.  Paula led the same charge in Oregon and Hawaii.  Now women inmates in all West coast states receive free access to the menstrual products of their choice.

            Paula helps persons suffering from serious mental illness and their families in dealing with the legal system.  Over her years in practice, Paula has witnessed the profound increase in mentally ill people being swept up by the criminal justice system.  She has defended mentally ill people charged with crimes.  She has sued Counties for their illegal treatment of mentally ill treatment inmates obtaining millions of dollars in settlements.

            Paula believes mental illness is a public health issue not a criminal justice problem.  Paula finds it cruel and absurd that jails and prisons house more mentally ill people than hospitals.

            Paula is a gifted public speaker, a no nonsense truth teller with a great sense of humor.  She is a frequent legal commentator on local television and radio.  She has provided commentary on all types of cases for all major media outlets.

            Paula is actively involved in various social justice organizations.  She loves the Khumbu region of Nepal and supports the American Himalayan Foundation and the Stop Girl Trafficking Program.

            Paula’s personal life and professional career are based on her desire to help people – to be of service.  Paula never gives up and always tries to be grateful.  These attitudes shape her approach to practicing law and life. 

            Paula is also licensed to practice law in Hawaii and Federal Courts.

            Paula attended Georgetown Visitation in Washington, D.C. for high school; Hamilton College (Kirkland) in Clinton, New York for College and the University of San Francisco School of Law for her J.D.

Practice Areas
  • 30%Criminal Defense
  • 30%Civil Litigation: Plaintiff
  • 20%Criminal Defense: DUI/DWI
  • 10%Estate Planning & Probate
  • 10%Personal Injury - General: Plaintiff
Focus Areas

Criminal Law, Drug & Alcohol Violations, Juvenile Delinquency, Criminal Domestic Violence, DUI/DWI, Probate & Estate Administration, Personal Injury - Plaintiff


4 Years Super Lawyers
  • Super Lawyers: 2019 - 2022

About Paula Canny

First Admitted: 1980, California

Professional Webpage:

Pro bono/Community Service

  • American Himalayan Foundation

Educational Background

  • Hamilton College (Kirkland), Clinton, NY, Bachelor of Arts , 1977
  • University of San Francisco School of Law – 1980 J.D., 1980


  • 5 million settlement in jail death case, 2017

Other Outstanding Achievements

  • Climbed Mt Whitney ongoing work with the Stop Girl Trafficking Program/ American Himalayan Foundation, 2018

Scholarly Lectures/Writings

  • Paula has given numerous presentations about California Sheriffs failure to provide women inmates with menstruation products and the efforts to compel Sheriffs to freely provide menstruation products to women inmates., Author/ Speaker, Compelling Sheriffs to Freely Provide Women Inmate’s with Menstruation Products, 2019


  • The Golden Tampon award recognizes work to compel Sheriffs and Jailors to freely provide women inmates with menstruation products at the inmate’s choice- and to stop Sheriffs from charging for tampons., Golden Tampon Award, Women Inmates, 2019

Bar/Professional Activity

  • Presenter at Bar Association MCLEs substance abuse/ professional responsibility , 2019
  • Board of Directors, Women Defenders
  • San Mateo County Drug Court
  • San Mateo County Bar Association
  • California Attorneys for Criminal Justice
  • National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers
  • California, 1980

Industry Groups

  • Civil Rights
  • Mental Health Conditions in Jails
  • Monitoring County Jail Conditions
  • Overseeing County Jail operations
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Office Location for Paula Canny

840 Hinckley Road
Suite 101
Burlingame, CA 94010

Phone: 650-652-7862

Fax: 650-652-7835

Last Updated: 5/15/2022

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