My Law Practice
I’ve represented clients in a very broad mix of matters, in hundreds of real estate and business transactions cumulatively worth several billion dollars. I enjoy business and real property acquisitions and sales transactions, real estate and green building projects, and land use and other public permit matters. I’ve advised on intellectual property protection projects and disputes, estate planning and succession strategies, human resources issues, aviation sales and operations, and litigation strategy and management.
I’m intensively involved in the legal and business affairs of Clif Bar & Company, the well-known maker of energy bars and other great-tasting and nutritious foods and drinks, where for many years I have served as general counsel, secretary and director. This experience gives me an in- house perspective on the operating and legal challenges faced by a successful and fast-growing business.
I also serve as the co-trustee of non-Clif Bar related trusts with nearly $100 million in assets. For many years I also have been a mediator and arbitrator on the Alameda County Alternative Dispute Resolution Panel.
Aside from my Clif Bar and co-trustee duties, my law practice is limited to carefully chosen clients who engage me for targeted strategic projects related to legal problem-solving, business growth, and social and environmental ethics.
I’m always interested in the road less traveled, in representing the interesting client with quirky and seemingly intractable legal and business problems, in developing lasting professional and personal relationships, and in finding ethical solutions to business and legal problems.
I’ve been a pilot since 1983 and own a turboprop aircraft, which I use in my legal practice for clients throughout the Western United States. If there is a fit, I can come to you.
My Background and Education
I grew up in Southern California, where I was the student body president of Newport Harbor High School in Newport Beach, and also the student member of the California State Board of Education.
I’ve been active in environmental organizations and issues since the 1960s. In the early 1970s, (before I attended college) I spent four fire seasons as a US Forest Service firefighter based in Southern California, where I learned first-hand about the forces of nature. I fought more than 70 wildfires throughout the Western United States, on “hot-shot” crews, fire trucks and helicopters.
My interest in the interactions of human activity and the natural world continued in college in the 1970s. In 1979 I received my bachelors degree in Earth Sciences and Environmental Studies from the University of California, Santa Cruz. I worked my way through college as a law clerk in the Santa Cruz District Attorneys Office, and also as a criminal justice planner for Santa Cruz County.
In 1982 I received my Juris Doctor degree from Berkeley Law at the University of California, Berkeley (formerly Boalt Hall School of Law). While in law school I worked for the National Park Service in Yellowstone National Park (as a geologist), and also for the Pacific Gas and Electric Company law department, with a focus on geothermal energy.
I started my legal career in a mid-sized San Francisco law firm, was in-house at a real estate developer for a time, and then started my own law practice, with a focus on San Francisco real estate and land use. In the mid-1990s I spent two years in the corporate department at the San Francisco office of a large New York-based firm, and then joined the mid-sized Oakland law firm of Wendel, Rosen, Black & Dean LLP as a business, real estate and land use partner, where I spent the next 12 years.
In the mid-1990s I began to represent a small energy bar company called Clif Bar. Clif Bar taught me a lot about the business case for sustainability, and how to be successful by doing business with strong social and environmental values. I began to represent more and more like-minded persons and companies.
With long experience in real estate, I became interested in green building. I became (I’m told) the first lawyer in California, and among the first lawyers in the United States, to become a LEED� Accredited Professional, an accreditation issued by the United States Green Building Council. As a LEED� AP, I understand green building practices and principles; am familiar with LEED� requirements, resources, and processes; and have the knowledge and skill necessary to participate in the design process, support and encourage integrated design, and streamline the LEED� application and certification process.
I’ve been an aviation enthusiast for most of my life, and a pilot since 1983. I am a special deputy sheriff for the City and County of San Francisco, where in the 1990s I served as the Commander of the San Francisco Sheriffs Air Squadron. I own a Cessna turboprop aircraft.
I have served on the boards of the following organizations:
- The Volunteer Center of San Francisco, 1997-2000
- The American Red Cross Alameda County, 1997-2005
- The Northern California Solar Energy Association, 2008-2010
When not working or flying, I like to golf, ski, surf, bike, and backpack in the high Sierra, all with my family and friends. I also love to read about United States, world and ancient history.
In 2002, inspired by Clif Bar, I had the idea of trying to make Wendel Rosen the first green- certified law firm in the world, while creating a green business practice group. I recruited other like-minded lawyers and became a founding member and first head of the Green Business Practice Group at Wendel, Rosen.
I also served as the Co-chair of the California State Bar’s Task Force on Sustainable Practice. The recommendations of the Task Force were adopted by the State Bar Board of Governors in September 2008.
I am most interested in representing and helping green business clients.