Acos, Jena Shoaf

Natural resources attorney with unique expertise combining public agency work with water law. Specializes in emerging groundwater laws and implementation of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA). Immersive, team-player, prioritizing a preemptive approach to representation.

Jena Acos’ practice thrives at the intersection of water and public agency law. She intimately understands how natural resource issues interrelate with the economic, social and regulatory aspects inherent in public agency work. She takes a strategic approach to breaking down problems and generating candid dialogue that is often key to resolving complex issues.

Jena’s clients include one of California’s largest water districts responsible for managing one of the state’s critically overdrafted groundwater basins. Jena advises clients on SGMA and the development of groundwater management plans. Along with institutional government entities, Jena works with various water rights holders on both small-scale and larger projects. 

Jena serves as a contract city attorney for the City of Carpinteria, where she works closely with city staff to draft, review and enforce contracts and ordinances as well as navigate critical jurisdictional issues. Her work has included addressing comprehensive regulations for short-term rentals, taking on racial and social justice issues, negotiating land use matters with developers and energy companies and helping the city navigate sea-level rise, coastal access and various housing issues.

Representative Matters
  • Special counsel to the newly formed GSA for the Westside Subbasin. Westside Subbasin consists mainly of the lands in the Westlands Water District, the largest agricultural water district in the United States comprised of over 1,000 square miles of farmland. Provides counsel to GSA, including compliance with SGMA’s procedural requirements, preparation of the GSP, and collaboration with neighboring GSAs and stakeholders.

  • Counsel to a group of local agencies in Ventura County to draft and negotiate a joint powers agreement to form a Groundwater Sustainability Agency pursuant to the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act.

News & Events

Legal Aid Foundation of Santa Barbara County, Board Member

California Groundwater Resource Association Central Coast Board, Vice President

Georgetown Pro Bono Fellows Program

Central American Refugee Committee (CRECE)

Planning for College Success

California Public Interest Research Group (CalPIRG)

Northwest Youth Corp – Conservation Corps

Publications & Presentations
  • J.D., 2013, Georgetown University Law Center
  • M.P.P., 2013, Georgetown Public Policy Institute
  • B.A., 2007, University of California at Berkeley
  • California

2019 Young Pro, Water & Wastes Digest

Top 50 Women in Business 2019, Pacific Coast Business Times, March 2019

Global Law Scholar, Georgetown University Law School

Senior Articles Editor, The Georgetown Journal of Gender and the Law