News

Best Lawyers, the oldest and most respected peer-review publication in the legal profession, has awarded San Francisco Lawyer of the Year honors for 2010 to William K. Coblentz for Land Use & Zoning Lawyer of the Year, Pamela S. Duffy for Real Estate Lawyer of the Year, and William T. Hutton for Tax Lawyer of the Year.  These Coblentz, Patch, Duffy & Bass attorneys received three of the sixteen Lawyers of the Year honors awarded by Best Lawyers.  Managing partner Jeffrey Knowles conveyed, "This honor attests to the excellent work and dedication of these partners.  Three of the sixteen recipients of this honor are lawyers from Coblentz—more than any other law firm in San Francisco."

After more than a quarter of a century in publication, Best Lawyers is designating “Lawyers of the Year” in high-profile legal specialties in large legal communities. Only a single lawyer in each specialty in each community is being honored as the “Lawyer of the Year.”

Best Lawyers compiles its lists of outstanding attorneys by conducting exhaustive peer-review surveys in which thousands of leading lawyers confidentially evaluate their professional peers. The current, 16th edition of The Best Lawyers in America (2010), is based on more than 2.8 million detailed evaluations of lawyers by other lawyers.

The lawyers being honored as “Lawyers of the Year” have received particularly high ratings in our surveys by earning a high level of respect among their peers for their abilities, professionalism, and integrity.

Steven Naifeh, Managing Editor of Best Lawyers, says, “We continue to believe – as we have believed for more than 25 years – that recognition by one’s peers is the most meaningful form of praise in the legal profession. "

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Jeff Bernstein gives his views on the significance of receiving the Garvey Award, trends during his decades of tax practice, and future issues in taxation in California and at the federal level.  Click here for the full article.

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Coblentz Congratulates Clients, Tejon Ranch Inc. and DMB Associates, for receiving the Governor's Environmental and Economic Leadership Award in recognition of the historic conservation pact signed by Tejon Ranch Company and America's leading conservation and environmental organizations.

The Governor's Award, California's highest and most prestigious environmental honor, recognizes individuals, organizations and businesses that have demonstrated exceptional leadership for voluntary achievements in conserving California's resources, protecting and enhancing the environment, and building public-private partnerships.

The unprecedented conservation pact is the largest private conservation agreement in California history and will permanently preserve up to 240,000 acres - 90% of the historic Tejon Ranch.  The agreement protects and expands foraging habitat for the California condor, safeguards other threatened or endangered species such as the San Joaquin kit fox, the blunt-nosed leopard lizard and the Tehachapi slender salamander.  It permanently protects an unbroken expanse of open space more than seven times the size of San Francisco, open space that's home to native grasslands, oak woodlands, Joshua trees and conifer forests.

The agreement between Tejon Ranch Company and Audubon California, Endangered Habitats League, Natural Resources Defense Council, Planning and Conservation League, and the Sierra Club, also created the Tejon Ranch Conservancy, an independent non-profit organization that recently concluded its first year overseeing continued stewardship of the conserved lands.

Tejon Ranch is currently engaged in the development of the communities of Tejon Mountain Village and Centennial. Tejon Mountain Village, a mountain resort development in the Tehachapi Mountains is one of the greenest, most ecologically sensitive communities of its type ever proposed in California.  Centennial, a master planned new town in northwest Los Angeles County, likewise places a strong emphasis on sustainability and environmental sensitivity, evidenced by the fact that Centennial will be the first major development in Los Angeles County to comply with both the state's greenhouse gas reduction goals and the county's green building ordinance. In addition to the aforementioned Pardee Homes, Tejon Ranch Company's partners in the development of Centennial include Lewis Investment Company and Standard Pacific Homes.

About the Governor's Environmental and Economic Leadership Award

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The Governor's Environmental and Economic Leadership Awards program was established in 1993. The award program is administered by the California Environmental Protection Agency and the Resources Agency in collaboration with the State and Consumer Services Agency, the California Department of Food and Agriculture, and the Business, Transportation and Housing Agency.

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SAN FRANCISCO, Sept. 16, 2009 – The California State Bar Tax Section will honor Coblentz, Patch, Duffy & Bass LLP Partner Jeffry Bernstein with the Garvey Award for his lifetime achievement and contributions in the area of tax at its annual November meeting.

For more than 31 years, Bernstein has specialized in income, estate and property tax matters.  He has lectured extensively on taxation and taught at the University of California, Berkeley School of Law, Puget Sound School of Law, and in the Master of Laws Taxation Program at Golden Gate University.  He served three years on the Executive Committee of the California State Bar Tax Section and organized the successful annual joint conference of the State Bar Tax Section and Los Angeles County Bar Tax Section, presenting policy and legislative papers to members of the IRS, Senate Finance Committee, House Ways and Means Committee, and Treasury Department in Washington, D.C.  Thereafter, he acted as special advisor to the Executive Committee with regard to this joint program.

"We are so proud of Jeff for receiving this honor and recognition,” Coblentz, Patch, Duffy & Bass Managing Partner Danna Kozerski said.  “The partnership applauds him for his contributions and service in tax law, but even more importantly are Jeff’s clients and their businesses that benefit from his deep involvement in this highly technical specialty. "

In his practice, Bernstein represents clients in multifaceted tax issues arising in complex transactions, including real estate development, mergers and acquisitions.  He counsels start-up companies and advises on partnership, LLC and corporate income tax implications, as well as represents individuals on federal and California income tax issues, California sales and property tax considerations, estate and charitable planning, and the effect of transactions on overall family financial planning.  Bernstein has actively represented clients in IRS audits, California FTB and SBE audits, and before the U.S. Tax Court and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.  He has successfully litigated property tax appeals resulting in significant valuation reductions for clients such as San Francisco Shopping Centre, Catellus Development Corp., JCDecaux and Costco.

Bernstein is a fellow of the American College of Tax Counsel, a member of the committees on Pass-Through Entities and Partnerships of the American, California and New York State Bar Associations, and a member and former chair of the Western Region Bar Association IRS Liaison Committee.  He has been ranked among The Best Lawyers in America for more than 20 years.

Bernstein earned his J.D. and LL.M. in taxation in 1971 and 1975, respectively, from New York University School of Law, where he served as an editor of the New York University Law Review.  He received in B.A. from Queens College in New York in 1967.

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Pamela Duffy and Douglas Sands named as Dealmakers of the Year by California Real Estate Journal for negotiating a redevelopment agreement that will transform the San Francisco's historic Presidio section into a mixed-use community and national park.

September 14, 2009
California Real Estate Journal
Dealmakers of the Year
by Greg Kane

Redevelopment is tricky. Redeveloping portions of a 200-plus-year-old historic U.S. Army base in San Francisco is trickier. Doing so in the middle of the worst recession since the Great Depression? Even more so.

Pamela Duffy and Douglas Sands managed to accomplish all three in the past year. The attorneys from San Francisco-based Coblentz, Patch, Duffy & Bass LLP shared the lead on a redevelopment agreement that will transform the city's historic Presidio section into a mixed-use community and national park.

The deal between Presidio Trust and Cleveland-based developer Forest City Enterprises involves 42 acres of federal trust land and includes the conversion of a 77-year-old hospital into 154 rental apartments. Duffy and Sands were able to shepherd the deal to closure despite the unique challenges - and opponents - to such activity on historic property.

"There's a built-in fight," Duffy said. "Preserve the environment, preserve the historic buildings, but make enough money to run the place."

The attorneys' challenges to bringing the redevelopment deal together included observing the property's legal protections, managing the public-private partnership with a stake in the project and achieving financing during the October 2008 stock market collapse. Communication and understanding among all involved parties was an important tool in shepherding the deal to completion, Sands said.

"It's essential that you have folks on both ends that understand the challenges they're facing and help cooperate for a win-win for everyone," Sands said.

The deal closed on Halloween 2008, Duffy recalled, and lender Wachovia was in the process of being bought out by Wells Fargo.

"To hold the deal together took a lot of creativity and cooperation among the parties," she recalled.

Duffy points to experience as a major reason why she and Sands were able to help complete the Presidio deal despite multiple obstacles. In today's economy, with credit markets tightened, standards higher and deals fewer and further between, the attorneys involved with a deal need to be able to understand and anticipate all potential roadblocks so they don't become a problem down the line.

"It takes a level of experience and an understanding of the fundamentals that it didn't take before," Duffy said. "It used to be, if you had a hammer, you could pound a nail. Now you really need to understand the architecture."

Click here to view California Real Estate Journal ad.

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SAN FRANCISCO, June 30, 2009 – Coblentz, Patch, Duffy & Bass LLP Partners Pamela Duffy and Harry O’Brien were recognized in the 2009 edition of Chambers USA, the annual guide published by prestigious legal ranking company, Chambers and Partners.  Duffy and O’Brien were recognized as leaders in the real estate law category.

Lauded as a land use expert with vast experience in her field, Duffy comes highly recommended for her “exceptional knowledge, skill and remarkable understanding of strategic considerations.

”O’Brien, whose area of focus includes large commercial, residential and institutional development projects, also earned high praise: “He looks at every case carefully and adopts a thorough and productive approach. He explains how an owner can respond to the impact their project will have.”

The firm's Real Estate and Land Use Practice Group has worked on some of the largest commercial and residential development projects and transactions in Northern California. San Francisco projects include: the new California Academy of Sciences building, the San Francisco 49ers stadium project, the San Francisco Giant's AT&T Park, the Yerba Buena Gardens Community Center, the Westfield San Francisco Centre, Sutter Health/California Pacific Medical Center hospital rebuilding projects, Catellus Development Corporation's 300-acre Mission Bay project, The Gap's development of its 540,000-square-foot headquarters, and a major new $450 million energy transmission project under the San Francisco Bay.  Outside of San Francisco, the firm has handled the Tejon Ranch Company's land conservation agreement, a 152-acre Napa Pipe residential redevelopment project in Napa County, and eBay Inc.'s major campus expansion in San Jose. 

About Chambers and Partners

Chambers and Partners publish the leading guides to the legal profession.  A team of one hundred highly qualified, full-time researchers identifies and ranks the world’s best lawyers and law firms based on in-depth, objective research.  While each guide offers analysis of the legal market within a specific region, the Global guide offers worldwide coverage, ranking lawyers and law firms with leading international practices.

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SAN FRANCISCO, June 24, 2009 – Coblentz, Patch, Duffy & Bass LLP has been honored in the Real Estate and Construction category of the 2009 edition of The Legal 500, an online international law firm referral source.  The firm was recognized as a leader in land use and zoning in the Northern California region.

Described as "first rate, right up there and loaded with talent," Coblentz was one of only eight Northern California firms recognized by The Legal 500 for outstanding performance in this area.

Partners Pamela Duffy and Harry O'Brien also received individual recognition.  Duffy was praised as being "great for land use work, focusing in particular on transactions for large private and public clients."  O'Brien, described as "very capable" and an "effective negotiator," was commended for providing "practical business advice" and "an immediate response to critical issues."

The firm's Real Estate and Land Use Practice Group has worked on some of the largest commercial and residential development projects and transactions in Northern California.  San Francisco projects include: the new California Academy of Sciences building, the San Francisco 49ers stadium project, the San Francisco Giant's AT&T Park, the Yerba Buena Gardens Community Center, the Westfield San Francisco Centre, Sutter Health/California Pacific Medical Center hospital rebuilding projects, Catellus Development Corporation's 300-acre Mission Bay project, The Gap's development of its 540,000-square-foot headquarters, and a major new $450 million energy transmission project under the San Francisco Bay.  Outside of San Francisco, the firm has handled the Tejon Ranch Company's land conservation agreement, a 152-acre Napa Pipe residential redevelopment project in Napa County, and eBay Inc.'s major campus expansion in San Jose.

About The Legal 500

Published for more than 20 years, The Legal 500 Series provides the most comprehensive worldwide coverage currently available on legal services providers, in more than 100 countries.  Used by commercial and private clients, corporate counsel, CEOs, FDs and professional advisers - as well as by other referrers of work both nationally and internationally - the series is widely regarded as offering the definitive judgment of law firm capabilities.  For more information on The Legal 500 Series, visit www.legal500.com.

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William H. Orrick III was appointed as counselor to the Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Division of the U.S. Department of Justice.  In an interview, Orrick told the The Recorder that he wanted a job in the new administration.  Orrick said, "I contacted anybody I could think of to say:  Let me serve."  Click here for the full story.

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CPDB congratulates clients, California Academy of Science and Forest City's Westfield San Francisco Centre as finalists for the 2009 Urban Land Institute's Awards for Excellence.

Press Release from ULI

SUCCESS DESPITE THE ECONOMIC DOWNTURN: ULI ANNOUNCES TEN WINNERS FOR THE 2009 AWARDS FOR EXCELLENCE: THE AMERICAS COMPETITION; HERITAGE AWARD WINNER ALSO SELECTED

For more information, contact Trisha Riggs at 202/624-7086 or email: priggs@uli.org

ATLANTA (April 24, 2009)

Ten outstanding developments from the Americas have been selected as winners of the Urban Land Institute's (ULI) Awards for Excellence: The Americas competition, along with one winner of the Institute's prestigious Heritage Award. The winners of the awards competition, widely recognized as the land use industry's most prestigious recognition program, were announced at ULI's Spring Council Forum in Atlanta.

The competition is part of the Institute's Awards for Excellence program, established in 1979, which is based on ULI's guiding principle of recognizing best practice through the awards to promote better land use and development. ULI's Awards for Excellence recognize the full development process of a project, not just its architecture or design. The criteria for the awards include leadership, contribution to the community, innovations, public/private partnership, environmental protection and enhancement, response to societal needs, and financial viability.

The Heritage Award, also announced this year, is not an annual award, but rather is bestowed periodically to developments that have demonstrated industry excellence and made substantial contributions to the greater community's well-being for at least 25 years. 

The Heritage Award winner is the Baltimore Inner Harbor in Baltimore Maryland. The ten Awards for Excellence winners are: California Academy of Sciences, San Francisco; Comcast Center, Philadelphia; The Cork Factory Loft Apartments, Pittsburgh; Devries Place Senior Apartments, Milpitas, Calif.; Heifer International World Headquarters; Little Rock, Ark.; Kansas City Power and Light District, Kansas City, Mo.; Kierland Commons, Scottsdale, Ariz.; The RISE, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada; UniverCity, Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada; and West Chelsea/High Line Rezoning Plan, New York City.  

Over the years, the Awards for Excellence program has evolved from recognition of one development in North America to an international competition with multiple winners. The ULI Awards for Excellence: Europe was added in 2004, followed by the ULI Awards for Excellence: Asia Pacific and the Global Awards in 2005. Throughout the program's history, all types of projects have been recognized for their excellence, including office, residential, recreational, urban/mixed-use, industrial/office park, commercial/retail, new community, rehabilitation, and public projects and programs.

The 2009 Awards for Excellence: The Americas winners and the Heritage Award winner were selected by a jury of renowned land use development and design experts: Jury chairman Marilee A. Utter, president, Citiventure Associates, LLC, Denver; Douglas W. Betz, managing partner, Woolpert LLP, Dayton, Ohio; Thomas E. Cody, principal, ProjectPDX, Portland, Ore.; James J. Curtis, managing partner, Bristol Group, Inc., San Francisco;  Richard M. Gollis, principal, The Concord Group, LLC, Newport Beach, Calif.; Gary A. Hack, professor of urban design, University of Pennsylvania, School of Design, Philadelphia; William H. Kreager, principal, Mithun Architects + Designers + Planners, Seattle; Terry R. Montesi, president and chief executive officer, Trademark Property Company, Fort Worth, Texas; J. Michael Pitchford, president and chief executive officer, Community Preservation and Development Corporation, Washington, D.C.; Rebecca R. Zimmermann, principal, Design Workshop, Inc., Denver.

The 2009 winners were selected from more than 140 entries. The jury was challenged by the large number of applications and the high quality of the projects, which struck the judges as particularly significant in the current economic environment.

According to Jury Chairman Utter, the awards winners illustrate that well-designed, well-built projects can thrive even in dark economic times. "These are great examples of success that showcase creativity, innovation, and long-term thinking," Utter said. "Perhaps now more than ever, the ULI Awards for Excellence program reminds us of the key difference that responsible land use development can make, in terms of longevity and overall community sustainability."

More information about ULI's Awards for Excellence program is at www.uli.org/awardsandcompetitions.

About the Urban Land Institute
The Urban Land Institute (www.uli.org) is a nonprofit education and research institute supported by its members. Its mission is to provide leadership in the responsible use of land and in creating and sustaining thriving communities worldwide. Established in 1936, the Institute has more than 40,000 members representing all aspects of land use and development disciplines.

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William Orrick, III and Katherine Zarate Dulany won a defense verdict in Alameda County Superior Court when the jury returned an 11 to 1 verdict in favor of Albertsons. The dispute, spanning seven years, was over Albertsons' expansion of a store at the Lake Merritt Shopping Center in Oakland, California.

Merritt Bakery and Restaurant, a tenant in the shopping center, accused Albertsons of illegally proceeding with its construction project (which lasted from 2003 to 2005), creating a nuisance, interfering with the bakery's relationship with the landlord, and damaging its building and business. Plaintiffs called three experts (on construction, restaurants and damages), but could not persuade the jury that Albertsons had breached any duty of care. The jury deliberated for just two hours before delivering the defense verdict.

This is a back-to-back trial victory for William Orrick in Alameda County Superior Court. In February, William Orrick and Jana Scott prevailed in a bench trial on behalf of St. Jude Children's Research Hospital to defeat a will contest and reformation action by the close friend of a decedent in the Estate of Walter Pierce.

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