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Yahairah Aristy

Yahairah Aristy

Adjunct Professor

Yahairah is a dedicated community leader and attorney committed to ensuring that humanity is preserved in the justice system, and that diversity, women, and vulnerable populations are valued in society.

Yahairah has served as Deputy Public Defender since 2005 at the San Diego County Public Defender's Office, where she is committed to providing the finest legal representation to the clients entrusted to her. For over 15 years, she has been dedicated to being of service to her clients to ensure their humanity is considered in the checks and balances of the criminal justice system in a variety of cases ranging from murder to theft. As a Deputy Public Defender, Yahairah served on the faculty of the California Public Defender’s Association annual Trial Academy. She earned her Juris Doctorate from Thomas Jefferson School of Law, a Master of Arts in Clinical Psychology from Roosevelt University, and a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Marist College. She is an alumna of the National Criminal Defense College and The Campaign School at Yale University.

Yahairah devotes her time to advancing women and diversity in the community. In November 2021 Yahairah received the Frederick Douglass Community Service Award from the Earl B. Gilliam Bar Foundation for her outstanding contribution to the needs of the community. She is the first Deputy Public Defender and Dominican American to serve as president of Lawyers Club of San Diego in 2020-2021. Yahairah served as the 2019 president for the Earl B. Gilliam Bar Foundation. In 2018, she was a founding member of the revival of the National Women Political Caucus – San Diego Chapter and served as vice president and chair of the Political Action Committee. She also served as treasurer for transcenDANCE Youth Arts Project. Yahairah served a co-campaign manager for the first African American elected to the La Mesa City Council. In addition to her board service, Yahairah is active in mentoring and coaching high school students by serving as an attorney coach for the San Diego County Mock Trial Competition.

Yahairah a dynamic and an engaging speaker served as the Commencement Speaker for the 2019 Thomas Jefferson School of Law Graduation. She is recruited to be a speaker and most recently served as:

  • Moderator for the Black American Political Association of California - San Diego, a nonpartisan organization – Voter Education Forum for La Mesa City Council Candidates. (October 2021)
  • As a panelist expert for the San Diego County Bar Association Dialogue on Diversity Series Part 3 of 4 – Barriers Obstructing Access to Justice in the Latinx Community. (September 2021) •
  • A panelist for the University of San Diego Women Law Caucus – Progression of Women in the Legal Profession. (April 2021)
  • Panelist for Thomas Jefferson School of Law 20th Anniversary Women’s Conference – Diversity, Pluralism, and Repair: Honoring Our Past and Charting Our Legacy. (April 2021)
  • Panelist for University of San Diego Law Public Interest Law Foundation Student Speaker Event – Diversity, Racism & Criminal Justice System. (November 2020)


Published Commentaries & Articles

  • Today we celebrate Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s legacy, Tomorrow, we fight like hell to protect it. (San Diego Union Tribune)
  • Women need to know the hard-fought history that guaranteed their right to vote. (San Diego Union Tribune)
  • The Rise of Women in Politics (San Diego Lawyer Magazine)

Yahairah has been recruited to be featured in the following media:

  • Someone San Diego Should Know: Yahairah Aristy (The San Diego Union Tribune)
  • Meet Yahairah Aristy: Attorney, Lawyers Club of San Diego President (ShoutOut SoCal)
  • Inspiring Stories Rising Star Series (San Diego Voyager)

Yahairah, a past adjunct professor at San Diego State University’s Social Worker graduate program, and also a past high school teacher will be teaching Constitutional Law I and II. She looks forward to bringing the principles of the constitution and associated case law to life for her students.