Judge Bolanos was an Assistant United States Attorney from 1997 to 2003 and worked in both the criminal and civil divisions of the U.S. Attorney's office. Prior to joining the U.S. Attorney's office, Judge Bolanos served as a Special Assistant for Domestic Policy to Vice President Gore. During her tenure at the Vice President's office, Judge Bolanos advised the Vice President on civil rights, immigration, and education issues. Before joining the executive branch, Judge Bolanos served as Counsel to Senator Kennedy on the U.S. Senate Labor and Human Resources Committee. Judge Bolanos has practiced law with the law firm of Wilmer, Cutler & Pickering in Washington, D.C. and began her career as a staff attorney with the Mexican-American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF).
Judge Bolanos is a Bay Area native and a graduate of U.C. Berkeley and the Yale Law School, where she was elected to the law review. During her tenure with the Court, Judge Bolanos has served on the Executive Committee of the Court as well as the Court Technology Committee and various other administrative committees. Judge Bolanos is also a member of the Board of Trustees for the San Francisco Law Library. In addition, Judge Bolanos co-chairs the annual Color of Justice program at the Court designed to encourage students of color to pursue a career in the law and the judiciary.
Judge Bolanos has received numerous commendations for service to the Latino community. In 2004 she was selected as the Woman of the Year by the National Latino Peace Officers Association and in 2005 received the Distinguished Leader Award from the San Francisco Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. In 2006 Judge Bolanos received the Unity Award from the Minority Bar Coalition of Northern California in recognition of her service to the minority legal community. Judge Bolanos is a lifetime member of the Hispanic National Bar Association (HNBA) and served on the planning committee for the HNBA's 2006 Annual Convention in San Francisco. She is also a Member of the California Latino Judges Association, the National Association of Women Judges, San Francisco La Raza Lawyers and many other community organizations.