The City Attorney provides legal advice, support and direction to the City Council and the City staff in their capacity of performing official City duties.
Bio of Sonja Knighton Dickens, City Attorney
In February 2004, Ms. Dickens was appointed to serve as City Attorney for the City of Miami Gardens. Ms. Dickens has extensive experience in the area of municipal law and litigation. Before beginning her municipal career, Ms. Dickens worked with the law firm of Brown & Associates, where she practiced general civil and commercial litigation, and provided full litigation support to serve the firm's wide range of clients in the areas of probate, eminent domain, personal injury, commercial litigation and other general civil areas.
Ms. Dickens began her municipal career as an Assistant City Attorney for the City of West Palm Beach where her areas of specialty included planning and zoning, litigation, appeals and general municipal law. She handled civil litigation cases and appeals for the City and its various boards. She represented the City before administrative bodies and in court, as the prosecuting attorney and board attorney. She provided general legal counsel for the City, including the rendering of legal advice and assistance to the Mayor, the City Commission and various other City departments. She served as Legal Advisor to the Plan and Plats Review Committee (DRC); Legal Advisor to the Planning and Zoning Department; Legal Advisor to the Building Department ; and Legal Advisor to the Community Events Department. She served as board counsel to the Zoning Board of Appeals, the Downtown Action Committee and the Planning Board.
After serving the City of West Palm Beach, Ms. Dickens became associated with the law firm of James C. Brady & Associates in Fort Lauderdale, a boutique law firm specializing in complex land use litigation, local government law, real estate litigation, and general civil and commercial litigation. While at Brady & Associates, Ms. Dickens serviced both governmental and private clients. She also served as the Assistant City Attorney for the City of Lauderdale Lakes.
In 2006, Ms. Dickens became a partner with the national firm of Arnstein & Lehr, LLP in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Ms. Dickens’ areas of specialtyincluded land use litigation, local government law, real estate litigation, and general civil and commercial litigation. Her clients included both governmental and private clients, with an emphasis on municipal/governmental disputes. She handled appellate and first impression land use cases and other disputes involving governmental entities. represented commercial litigation clients on a vast array of matters. While at Arnstein & Lehr, Ms. Dickens also served as the Practice Group Leader for litigation.
In 2009, Ms. Dickens came in-house with the City of Miami Gardens and started the City’s first Legal Department. Ms. Dickens, and her capable staff oversee and handle all legal matters on behalf of the City of Miami Gardens.