Misty Sanford is a partner in the Real Estate Department in Willkie’s Los Angeles office, where she serves as Chair, Real Estate – West Coast. Her sophisticated and broad-based real estate transactional practice involves all aspects of real estate, with an emphasis on loan workouts, public/private partnerships (PPPs), real estate financing (including CMBS), complex mixed-use developments, purchase and sale, joint ventures, environmental issues, land use, leasing and reciprocal easement agreements, which allows her to assist with the full lifecycle of real estate assets.

Whether leading transformational real estate transactions or creating innovative diversity programs, Misty is a mover and shaker in real estate law and the legal community. Misty’s work includes representation of some of the world’s leading institutional investors, private equity firms, developers, multinational corporations, REITs, foundations, non-profits and individual entrepreneurs. Clients turn to her with their most complex transactions. She regularly advises clients on the risk allocation and due diligence areas of all types of real property developments and transactions.

Chambers USA (2024) ranks Misty among a leading practitioner in Southern California for Real Estate, citing her as a “fierce advocate for her clients.” Her pro bono practice has included representation of park development, homelessness and affordable housing organizations such as Homeboy Industries, Community Coalition, the Downtown Women’s Center, T.R.U.S.T. South LA and the Los Angeles River Revitalization Corporation.


Prior to joining Willkie in 2022, Misty was a partner at Munger, Tolles & Olson LLP. She also previously served as a judicial extern for Judge Stephen Reinhardt of the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Before attending law school, she worked on environmental justice matters at Environmental Defense Fund.
  • Legal 500 U.S., Recommended Lawyer
    • Real Estate: Real Estate, 2023-2024
    • Real Estate: Real Estate Finance, 2023-2024 
  • GlobeSt., Women of Influence, 2024
  • Super Lawyers
    • Southern California Super Lawyers, 2024
    • Southern California Rising Stars, 2011-2018
  • Los Angeles Business Journal
    • Women's Leadership Awards – Official Nominee, 2023
    • Leaders of Influence: Minority Attorneys, 2023-2024
    • Top Women Attorneys in Los Angeles, 2020
    • Most Influential Woman Attorney, 2018
    • Rising Star Attorney of the Year, 2016
  • Chambers USA, Real Estate (Band 2), California: Southern, 2024
  • Mexican American Bar Association
    • Community Impact Award, 2023
    • Justice Cruz Reynoso Community Service Award, 2015
  • University of California, Los Angeles School of Law's U. Serve L.A Award, 2023
  • Best Lawyers in America, Real Estate Law, 2023-2024
  • Latina Lawyers Bar Association, Francisca Flores Community Service Award, 2018
  • Ms. JD, Woman of Inspiration, 2018
  • Daily Journal
    • Top Lawyer Under 40 in California, 2017
    • Top Development Lawyer in California, 2014
  • Los Angeles County Bar Association Real Property Section, Outstanding Young Lawyer 2011

Actively engaged in community affairs, Misty served as a mayoral appointee to the Board of Recreation and Parks Commissioners, which directly oversees operations, programming and maintenance of over 400 parks and 175 recreation centers within the city, and the City of Los Angeles Environmental Affairs Commission. This public service has helped her develop a keen understanding of local government and the planning process.

She is a member of the American College of Real Estate Lawyers, the premier organization of distinguished U.S. real estate lawyers, where she serves as Chair of the Acquisitions Committee.  Among her many accolades, Misty has been recognized by Chambers USA, the Latina Lawyers Bar Association, the Los Angeles Business Journal, Ms. JD and the Mexican American Bar Association.

Misty is a founder and former chair of the board of directors of the Los Angeles Neighborhood Land Trust, a nonprofit that converts blighted parcels of land into neighborhood parks, gardens and community centers. She is also a founding board member and treasurer of For People of Color, Inc., a nonprofit dedicated to empowering students of color to become attorneys.

Additionally, Misty is a member of the Executive Committee for the USC Lusk Center for Real Estate. The Lusk Center seeks to advance real estate knowledge, inform business practice, and address timely issues that affect the real estate industry, the urban economy, and public policy. 



UCLA School of Law, J.D., 2005 Whittier College, B.A. (summa cum laude), 2000

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