840 Hinckley Rd, Suite 101
Burlingame, CA 94010

Paula Canny

  • The Law Offices of Paula Canny

Paula Canny


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

With over 40 years of legal experience, and a life experience that spans far beyond courtrooms, Paula’s first and still abiding passion is State court criminal defense – defending people charged with crimes in any of California’s 58 Counties. She 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.  She has 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 and has sued Counties for their illegal treatment of mentally ill treatment inmates obtaining millions of dollars in settlements. She believes mental illness is a public health issue not a criminal justice problem, and finds it cruel and absurd that jails and prisons house more mentally ill people than hospitals.

As a gifted public speaker, Attorney Paula Canny is 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.

She is actively involved in various social justice organizations, 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.  She never gives up and always tries to be grateful.  These attitudes shape her approach to practicing law and life. 

Attorney Paula Canny is licensed to practice law in Hawaii and Federal Courts. She 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

  • Criminal Defense
  • Civil Litigation

Verdicts & Settlements

  • $5 Million Dollar Settlement: In jail wrongful death case, 2017

Awards & Recognition

  • Super Lawyers 2019-2022

Bar Admission

  • California, 1980


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


  • National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers
  • California Attorneys for Criminal Justice
  • San Mateo County Bar Association
  • San Mateo County Drug Court
  • Board of Directors, Women Defenders
  • American Himalayan Foundation

Pro Bono & Community Service

Lectures & Publications

  • Paula Canny 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

Outstanding Achievements

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