Ashley Dunning is Co-Chair of the Public Pensions & Investments Group at Nossaman and is a member of the firm’s Litigation Department.  She has provided fiduciary and governance counsel services to public retirement systems since 1998.  Ashley currently serves as fiduciary counsel to the California Public Employees Retirement System (CalPERS), and fiduciary, litigation, governance, and/or special projects counsel to the majority of the twenty California retirement systems governed by the County Employees Retirement Law of 1937 (CERL), and to the city retirement systems in San Francisco, San Diego and Los Angeles.  She is also general counsel to the county retirement system in Marin.  She has provided fiduciary training and advice to the Colorado Public Employees’ Retirement Association’s Board and staff and to the Board of the Government Employees’ Retirement System of the Virgin Islands.  Additionally, Ashley has represented public retirement systems in litigation in numerous cases resulting in published decisions.

Ashley speaks regularly at national pension conferences and seminars, including the National Association of Public Pension Attorneys (NAPPA), California Association of Public Retirement Systems (CALAPRS), and State Association of County Retirement Systems (SACRS). Ashley also has been an invited speaker at the annual conference of the National Conference on Teachers’ Retirement Systems and Oklahoma Pension Conference.

Ashley was elected to the Executive Board of NAPPA in 2014 and currently serves as President of the organization.  She is immediate past-Chair of NAPPA's Fiduciary and Governance Section, a position she held for several years.



Ashley advises on issues involving fiduciary obligations, governance, and public retirement, conflict of interest, open meetings, and public records laws.  She appears regularly before boards of trustees and in court proceedings on these issues.  She also regularly provides training on these topics to clients and at conferences throughout the country.  In addition, Ashley has taught "Ethics for Public Officials" for over a decade at the Principles of Pension Management for Trustees conference sponsored by the California Association of Public Retirement Systems (CalAPRS).

Published California Supreme Court decisions in Ashley's public pension cases include:

  • Flethez v. San Bernardino County Employees’ Retirement Assn. (2017) 2 Cal. 5th 630; and  
  • Lexin v. Superior Court (2010) 47 Cal. 4th 1050.

Published California Court of Appeal decisions in her public pension cases include:

  • Luke v. Sonoma County (2019) 43 Cal. App. 5th 301;
  • Alameda County Deputy Sheriff’s Assn., et al. v. Alameda County Employees’ Retirement Assn. et al (2018) 19 Cal.App. 5th 61, Cal. Supreme Court review granted March 29, 2018 (S247095);
  • Marin Assn. of Public Employees v. Marin County Employees’ Retirement Assn. (2016) 2 Cal.App.5th 674, 702, Cal. Supreme Court review granted Nov. 22, 2016 (S237460);
  • Shelden v. Marin County Employees' Retirement Assn. (2010) 189 Cal. App. 4th 458;
  • Block v. Orange County Employees’ Retirement System (2008) 161 Cal. App. 4th 1297;
  • San Ramon Valley Fire Protection Distr. v. CCCERA (2004) 125 Cal.App.4th 343; and
  • In re Retirement Cases (2003) 110 Cal. App. 4th 426.

Ashley regularly presents to national public pension organizations on fiduciary issues applicable to public pension boards and systems, as described under Select Presentations below.


Ashley currently provides fiduciary and/or litigation, governance or special projects counsel for the following public retirement systems (in alphabetical order):

  • Alameda County Employees’ Retirement Association;
  • California Public Employees’ Retirement System;
  • Colorado Public Employees' Retirement Association;
  • Kern County Employees’ Retirement Association;
  • Los Angeles City Employees’ Retirement System;
  • Los Angeles County Employees’ Retirement Association;
  • Los Angeles Fire and Police Pensions;
  • Marin County Employees’ Retirement Association;
  • Mendocino County Employees’ Retirement Association;
  • Merced County Employees’ Retirement Association;
  • Pension Reserves Investment Management Board of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts;
  • Sacramento County Employees’ Retirement System;
  • San Bernardino County Employees’ Retirement Association;
  • San Diego City Employees’ Retirement System;
  • San Diego County Employees’ Retirement Association;
  • San Francisco Employees' Retirement System;
  • San Joaquin County Employees’ Retirement Association;
  • Sonoma County Employees’ Retirement Association;
  • Tulare County Employees’ Retirement Association;
  • Ventura County Employees’ Retirement Association; and
  • Water and Power Employees' Retirement Plan. 

Additionally, she is part of Nossaman’s public pension team that serves the following additional public retirement systems (in alphabetical order):

  • Hawaii Employees’ Retirement System;
  • Maryland State Retirement and Pension System;
  • New York State Teachers’ Retirement System;
  • State of Connecticut Office of the Treasurer; and
  • Texas Municipal Retirement System. 



Speaking Engagements


Community & Professional

National Association of Public Pension Attorneys, President

State Association of County Retirement Systems, Program Committee

Montera Middle School PTO, Board of Directors


Honors & Recognitions

Named to California’s Top Women Attorneys list by The Daily Journal, 2016

McFetridge Inn of Court, San Francisco, 2000-2003

Urban Fellow, City of New York, 1991-1992




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