Sigrid’s life and career experience shape her perspective on fundamental issues of fairness and opportunity, and her breadth of experience in the legal arena has earned her the highest praise from peers and legal professionals.
Sigrid Irías is a native San Franciscan with deep community roots. Her father immigrated to the Mission District from Nicaragua when he was 8 years old. Her mother, the daughter of a San Francisco police officer, is a native San Franciscan who also grew up in the Mission. Sigrid is the oldest of five.
During high school, Sigrid worked to pay for Catholic school tuition, and began what would become a lifetime connection to Coro Hispano de San Francisco, based in the Mission, and founded by one of her father’s high-school friends. After graduating a semester early from Star of the Sea, she worked her way through U.C. Berkeley as a seamstress and donut store clerk, and supported herself and her young son as she worked her way through U.C. Hastings College of the Law.
By her mid-20s, she was living in the Oceanview neighborhood, and was elected the president of the St. Emydius school board as she tried her first jury cases in the Bay Area’s superior courts. During over 20 years with one of San Francisco’s largest law firms, she also worked pro-bono for individuals and nonprofits, including for children facing deportation.
After settling in the Portola District in the late 1980s, Sigrid raised three children, getting her younger two through high school as a single parent, and devoting many hours to their schools’ parent boards, field trips, and fundraisers. From 1998 to 2000, when her youngest children were in elementary school, she took a sabbatical from law to teach junior high school full time at St. Finn Barr Catholic School in the Glen Park area, incorporating study of social justice issues with the language arts curriculum, and developing a self-paced algebra program for her 8th grade math students that allowed many to test out of 9th grade algebra when they started high school. In 2000, after two terrific years with her seventh- and eighth-grade students, she returned to work as a trial attorney with Sedgwick LLP, where she continued to litigate cases on behalf of individuals, businesses, and nonprofits, and maintained her dedication to providing a pipeline for youth by volunteer work as a coach for Abraham Lincoln High School’s mock trial team.
In 2012 she was elected the president of San Francisco La Raza Lawyers Association, and was general counsel for the Association, a nonprofit dedicated to diversity and social justice, during 2011, 2014, and 2015, coordinating the Association’s participation in amicus briefing in right-to-marriage cases, and spearheaded SFLRLA’s efforts to educate the legal community about the then-pending application of Sergio C. García to be admitted as the state’s first recognized undocumented attorney. Her pro bono work has included representation of minors from Central America facing removal proceedings in immigration court, and representation of a Mission District family facing eviction.
Sigrid’s interest in being a judge stems from a belief that fairness and social justice require an informed, broadly experienced judiciary. In 2002 she began volunteering as a settlement panelist with the San Francisco Superior Court’s Early Settlement Conference program, helping litigants in cases ranging from complex commercial disputes to breach of contract and personal injury cases reach resolution prior to trial. In 2010 she completed training as an arbitrator for the San Francisco Homeless Shelter’s arbitration program, and for many years, pro bono, conducted several arbitrations per year, providing a forum for resolution of disputes between the City’s homeless shelters and the people they serve. In 2014, she was sworn in as a pro tem, volunteer, judge with the San Francisco Superior Court, where she has handled civil discovery, traffic, juvenile, and unlawful detainer cases in addition to continuing to work as a private attorney.