Moab City brings legal services in-house with new staff attorney; McAnany recognized for service

Laurie Simonson is the first person to serve as the Moab City Attorney. She will replace Chris McAnany, who for years served as the city’s contracted attorney. Courtesy photo

The City of Moab has hired Laurie Simonson as the new in-house attorney. The hiring of Simonson marks the first time the city will have a full-time attorney on staff to handle the municipality’s legal matters, said Communications and Engagement Manager Lisa Church in an email.

“Moab City is fortunate to be in a position to hire a full-time in-house attorney,” said Moab Mayor Emily Niehaus. “Laurie brings a deep set of legal expertise to Moab City. As the city faces new challenges, I am grateful to have a fresh legal perspective to help us move forward and continue to get organized as a team and a community.”

Since 2003, Simonson has worked as an attorney specializing in employment litigation for the federal government, first in California, and since 2011 in Denver. She holds a Juris Doctorate from the University of California, Hastings School of Law, and a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science and literature from Claremont McKenna College, said Church.

Being active in her community has always been important to Simonson, Church said. In California, she served five years as a member of the San Mateo County Transportation Authority, and four years as a planning commissioner in San Mateo County. She has also been a traffic commissioner in Burlingame, California, and while in Denver, she served on the city’s Board of Appeals.

After receiving her law degree in 1995, Simonson worked in several private law firms litigating civil, business, and First Amendment matters, said Church. In 1998, she received the Bar Association of San Francisco’s Award of Merit for establishing a mentoring program for at-risk youth.

An avid biker, Simonson is a world champion in her age bracket in the World 24-hour Solo Mountain Bike Championships and a Colorado state champion in women’s cross-country single-speed endurance racing, said Church.

Church said Simonson’s love of the outdoors and biking make Moab a natural fit. She first visited Moab in 1991 and has regularly returned to the area for more than 20 years. Simonson and her spouse, Julie, purchased a home in the area earlier this year.

“I love the community and I’ve made many friends here over the years,” she said. “The whole experience of Moab is spectacular. It’s just good for your soul.”

She said she is excited to work for the City of Moab and looks forward to being part of the community full time.

“Being Moab’s City Attorney is a dream come true,” she said. “I’ve been involved on municipal boards and as a citizen participating in public meetings, so this position is super exciting, and it combines everything I love.”

McAnany recognized for decades of service to Moab City

new city attorney
Moab Mayor Emily Niehaus presents an award to Chris McAnany for his years of service to the city. Courtesy photo

As Simonson joins the city staff, longtime contract attorney Chris McAnany will transition to finishing up work on a variety of legal matters already in process as well as providing occasional consulting services, said Church.

“Chris has been providing valuable legal advice to the city since 1996,” Niehaus said. “He’s seen the city through times of growth and challenge. Chris will be missed by everyone at City Hall.”

During the Oct. 24 Moab City Council meeting, Niehaus recognized McAnany for his more than 22 years of service to the city.

“[Chris] has consistently helped guide our municipal government as city leaders have navigated soaring successes and tough challenges,” Niehaus said while presenting a plaque to McAnany in recognition of his work. “Through it all, he has been a calming force in a storm, always providing careful reasoning and sound legal advice across a wide and varied scope of complex zoning, land use, and municipal law issues.”

“I very much appreciate the recognition,” McAnany said. “Over the years, Moab has changed a lot and I’ve always enjoyed it … I’ve always tried to do a good job for the people of the city.”