Louise Renne ’61

Taking a Stand

Summer 2009

As the city attorney for San Francisco, Louise Renne ’61 once successfully sued the R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company to remove the cartoon character Joe Camel from cigarette advertisements. She also took on Bank of America in a case that helped San Francisco regain more than $80 million after the bank mishandled public bonds. “The job of a public attorney is not only to defend the public entity,” she explains, “but also to affirmatively protect consumers and taxpayers.”

Renne has enjoyed a long, and perhaps unlikely, career in the public sector. When she and her husband first moved to San Francisco, the legal community was governed by a hard-to-crack patriarchal network.

“There were a number of law firms that wouldn’t even give me an interview,” recalls Renne. One firm told her that a woman with two children should be at home rather than at the office.

Renne eventually broke through, and after working at a law firm, serving on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, and working as the city attorney, she has now opened her own firm. Renne Sloan Holtzman & Sakai represents public agencies, as well as public interest clients, and is currently working to end bid-rigging and discrimination in the municipal bond industry. The subject riles Renne’s legal passion and makes the answer to the question of retirement obvious. As she says definitively, “I don’t see it on the near horizon.”