Lei-Chala I. Wilson received her Economics degree from SDSU in 1985 and Juris Doctor from U.C. Davis, King Hall, in 1989. At U.C. Davis, Wilson was the 1989 Western Regional Champion of the National Trial Competition.
Wilson is a 23 year veteran of the Law Offices of the San Diego Public Defender. Wilson has tried over 120 jury trials to conclusion, including misdemeanors, serious and violent felonies, three strikes cases, sex offenses, and homicides. She has completed several hundred preliminary examinations and argued numerous motions.
Wilson was just elected to her third 2 year term as President of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), San Diego Branch. Wilson received the branch’s President’s Award in 2003 and the branch received the NAACP CA State Conference Dr. H. Claude Hudson Award in October 2010.
Wilson is a Past President of the National Council of Negro Women, Inc. (NCNW), San Diego Section. She received the NCNW SD Living Legacy Award in 2000 and the Bethune Woman of the Year Award in 2008.
In April 2010 Wilson received a gubernatorial appointment to the California Council on Criminal Justice. That same month the San Diego County Bar Association presented Wilson with the Outstanding Service By A Public Attorney. Wilson was also the recipient of the Black Contractors Association’s Social Justice Advocate of the Year Award in October 2010. In March 2011, Wilson received a National Citation Award for Community Service from the Phi Delta Kappa, Inc., National Sorority, Delta Upsilon Chapter.
Wilson is a Past President of the Earl B. Gilliam Bar Association (EBGBA) (1998, 2006 and 2007) and the California Association of Black Lawyers (CABL) (2000 -2001). EBGBA presented her with President’s Award in 1993, 2002, 2008 and 2010, the Distinguished Service Award in 1996, 2003 and 2005 and the Thurgood Marshall Award for Legal Excellency in 2001. CABL presented Wilson with the President’s Award in 1999, 2006 and in 2007. In 2009 CABL presented Wilson with the David Cunningham Non-Profit Community Service Award.
Wilson is a Past Director of the National Bar Association (NBA) Region IX and served five years as the Chair of the NBA Criminal Law and Juvenile Justice Section. In 2009 Wilson served as Co-Chair of the NBA Legal Education Committee and received a National Bar Association Presidential Award.
In November 2006 Wilson was appointed to the State Bar of California Attorney Civility Task Force. In March 2007 Wilson was appointed to the San Diego Mayor’s Charter Review Commission that revised the San Diego City Charter that was considered by the San Diego City Council for the June 2008 ballot for voter approval.
Wilson served a three year term on the Board of the ACLU of San Diego and Imperial Counties (2006 -2009). Wilson was also a Board Member of the San Diego Mediation Center (1994 – 1998) and on the Board of Trustees for the San Diego County Public Law Library (2001 – 2005).
Wilson is an Advisor and Past Chair of the State Bar of California Criminal Law Section Executive Committee and currently serves as the Education Chair and been involved with that committee since 1996. Wilson was a Delegate to the State Bar Conference of Delegates for the SDCBA (1994 – 1998) and on the Judicial Nominations Evaluation Committee in 2004, 2006 and 2008. Wilson was a recipient of the SDCBA’s first Diversity Award in 2001. She served on the State Bar of California, District Nine Nominating Committee, Executive Committee of the Conference of Delegates, in 1998.
Wilson was the Outstanding Match of the Year in 1996 and the Outstanding Attorney Volunteer in 2002 for the Volunteers in Parole, Inc. (VIP). She has been involved with VIP as an Attorney Mentor since 1995 and additionally serves on its San Diego Advisory Committee.
Wilson is a frequent lecturer for the State Bar of California Criminal Law Section and has also spoken at programs for the NBA, American Bar Association (ABA), EBGBA Neighborhood Law School and the Ninth Circuit District Court Annual Conference in Guam and Saipan on criminal law topics, attorney civility, courtroom etiquette, elimination of bias, opening a solo practice, and case management.
Wilson has put together community forums that include the San Diego Mayoral, City Attorney, Assembly and Senate District, San Diego Unified School District board candidates and the 4th Council District candidates’ races, Hate Crimes, Prop. 54 and 19, renewal of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, Student Privacy Rights, domestic violence awareness and the HEAT/S (Human Exploitation And Trafficking in Sex).
Wilson is a member of the State Bar of California, NBA (Life Member), CABL (Life Member), EBGBA (Life Member), Black Women Lawyers of Los Angeles, Inc., ABA, California Public Defenders Association, SDCBA, California Women Lawyers, NAACP (Life Member), ACLU, NCNW (Life Member), MLK Jr. Democratic Club, San Diego Veterans Democratic Club and Blacks in Government (BIG) Greater San Diego Chapter.