Nossaman Celebrates 75 Years


This year marks the 75th anniversary of Nossaman LLP.  Founded in downtown Los Angeles in 1942 by Walter Nossaman and Joseph Brady, the Firm originally specialized in tax law, and has evolved over the past 75 years to become a full service, national law firm with eight offices across the U.S. The Firm retains a strong foundation in California, while having a significant presence in Washington, D.C., Austin, Texas and Seattle, Washington, and has developed nationally recognized practices in infrastructure, litigation, healthcare, environment and real estate, public policy, public pensions and corporate law.

Since its inception, Nossaman has been recognized in the business and legal press for a number of notable accomplishments and has served a wide array of clients in both the private and public sector on many landmark matters.  This tradition continues today on both fronts.

Recently, Nossaman was named to the National Law Journal's "Midsize Hot List" for the fourth time overall and the third year in a row, and Chambers & Partners recognized the Firm's Eminent Domain, Environment & Land Use, Healthcare, Infrastructure, and Public Policy Practice Groups in its Chambers USA guide of leading law firms.  Just as exciting, the Firm was named to Law360's list of the 100 Best Law Firms for Minority Attorneys as well as its list of the 100 Best Law Firms for Female Attorneys.

These awards highlight the importance Nossaman places on core values such as excellence, integrity, client service, diversity, creativity, accountability, and teamwork.  The Firm’s vision calls upon each attorney, policy advisor, and staff member to take personal responsibility for the success of the Firm, and to work diligently to achieve its collective goals and those of its clients.

Nossaman’s rich tradition of adding value for clients also continues unabated.  The Firm’s attorneys have recently served as counsel on a number of matters responsible for reshaping the practice of law and having long term, positive impacts in communities across the nation.  These matters include:

  • The University of California Board of Regents – UC Merced 2020 Campus Expansion Project.  Nossaman is the lead advisor on this high profile project to accommodate growth of the university system’s newest campus from the current 6,700 students to 10,000 students by 2020.  The $1.3 billion project, procured as an availability payment-based P3, will add approximately 790,000 assignable square feet of new facilities, including student housing, administrative and research space, classrooms and recreational centers and associated infrastructure.  As the first university campus expansion in the United States to be undertaken using the P3 availability payment model, the closely watched project is expected to serve as a template for other colleges seeking to expand or rehabilitate their campuses.   
  • Goleta Water District v. Slippery Rock Ranch, LLC.  Nossaman successfully litigated a high-profile water rights dispute, on behalf of the Goleta Water District (Goleta), to defeat an attempted private appropriation of water resources.  In this contentious water rights dispute, Nossaman represented Goleta in its suit against Slippery Rock Ranch, a 780-acre property owned by Dick Wolf, creator of Law and Order.  On February 23, 2017, the Santa Barbara Superior Court issued a decision solidly in favor of Nossaman's client, as reported by the Daily Journal, the Los Angeles Times and other media outlets. 
  • New Mexico Department of Game and Fish.  Nossaman represents the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish with respect to litigation and negotiations with the United States Department of the Interior regarding Mexican wolf management and recovery.  In this capacity, Nossaman obtained a preliminary injunction from the United States District Court for the District of New Mexico, against the Federal Government, halting the release of captive wolves within the State of New Mexico.  After the injunction was set aside by the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit, Nossaman assisted the Department in responding to requests from the Department of the Interior for permits to import wolves into New Mexico, and, in some cases, release them into the wild.
  • Maryland Transit Administration and Maryland Department of Transportation – Purple Line Light Rail.  Nossaman served as the lead legal team advising on Maryland’s first transit P3 project – an approximately $2 billion (capital cost) light rail system that will significantly facilitate travel between the Maryland suburbs and Washington, D.C.  The project, Maryland’s largest P3 and the nation’s largest full DBFOM P3, will provide a direct link to the Metrorail Red, Green and Orange lines and connect to the Maryland Area Regional Commuter train, Amtrak and local bus services.  The project reached commercial close in April 2016 and financial close in June 2016.  Construction is expected to begin in 2017 and completion is expected in 2022.  The Purple Line’s financing plan includes an $874 million TIFIA loan, $313 million in PABs, $138 million in private equity and approximately $900 million in anticipated federal New Starts funding.  Maryland taxpayers are projected to save more than $550 million over the 36-year contract term from the original bid amounts, due to rate and credit spread risk sharing under the P3 agreement.
  • Arizona Department of Transportation – South Mountain Freeway.  Nossaman is ADOT’s outside counsel advising on all aspects of a procurement for the first highway project developed under Arizona’s P3 statute.  The 22-mile, eight-lane greenfield freeway project in the Phoenix area features three general purpose lanes and an HOV lane in each direction, a major interchange with the I-10, and connections with 14 urban arterial streets.  The Firm guided ADOT in its successful February 2016 procurement of an innovative Design-Build-Maintain contract with a fixed design and construction price of $916 million, plus 30 years of routine and capital maintenance at a fixed price of $132 million (2015 dollars).  Thanks to the agreement’s innovative approach, ADOT captured immediate capital cost savings of $122 million with potential total savings in the range of $300 million.  The largest single contract in ADOT’s history, the freeway development is also the agency’s first DBM project and the longest-term DBM contract to date in the U.S. transportation sector.  Nossaman is currently assisting ADOT with contract administration matters.  Nossaman also serves as lead counsel to ADOT in successfully defending in federal district court the 20-mile South Mountain Freeway Project in Phoenix against NEPA, and Section 4(f) challenges.  The case is now on appeal.  Construction began in September 2016 and the freeway is expected to open in 2019.
  • John Muir Health.  Nossaman had a significant recent victory for its client, John Muir Health, in the California Supreme Court.  On May 24, 2017, in the case of Dhillon v. John Muir Health, the Court took an important further step in protecting hospitals and medical staffs from having to engage in extensive and expensive quasi-judicial peer review hearings for minor disciplinary sanctions.  The Court reversed a Court of Appeal ruling finding non-appealable an erroneous trial court ruling in a mandamus action remanding for a full B&P Section 809 Judicial Review Hearing, a decision by an MEC ordering a disruptive physician to attend an anger management class, after an internal investigation requested by the physician concluded he and another physician had engaged in conduct in violation of the medical staff's code of conduct.  One physician agreed to take and complete an anger management class while the plaintiff refused.
  • Flethez v. San Bernardino County Employees’ Retirement Association.  Nossaman was victorious in the California Supreme Court in March of 2017 for a group of retirement board amicus curiae in the case of Flethez v. San Bernardino County Employees’ Retirement Association (2 Cal.5th 630 [214 Cal.Rptr.3d 482, 389 P.3d 1232]).  In the case, the California Supreme Court issued a unanimous decision upholding public retirement boards’ authority and discretion to make disability retirement determinations without the burden of prejudgment interest being applied to them for the period during which they reasonably exercise that quasi-judicial authority.  Nossaman participated in both briefing, and oral argument, before the California Supreme Court.
  • TIAA, Lockheed Martin and San Diego County Regional Airport Authority.  Nossaman advises Fortune 50 company TIAA on a variety of legal and compliance issues that affect its expanding operations, including U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board (MSRB) pay-to-play rules.  The Firm is also providing legal and strategic counsel to Fortune 50 company Lockheed Martin on the evolving political and legal landscape, including guidance and training on ethics and political compliance.  Additionally, Nossaman is a trusted policy advisor and legislative advocate for the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority - an independent agency which owns and operates three airports including the San Diego International Airport.   

These achievements would make the founders of Nossaman, and the many notable attorneys and public policy advisors that have called the Firm home over the years, very proud.

As stated earlier, Nossaman was founded by Walter Nossaman and Joseph Brady in Los Angeles in 1942 as a Firm specializing in tax law.  In fact, it is not a stretch to say that Nossaman wrote the book on tax law, as Walter Nossaman authored one of the authoritative texts on trusts—On Trusts Administration and Taxation" —in 1953.

In addition to Mr. Nossaman and Mr. Brady, between 1942 and 2017, many other individuals were responsible for the Firm’s growth and success.  A few notable alumni include:

  • William E. Guthner II, who joined the Firm in 1962 and served as the Firm’s Managing Partner for more than fifteen years, as well as a name partner.  Under his leadership, the Firm grew significantly and modernized its operations.  Mr. Guthner is widely credited for having set the tone for the Firm’s culture, which was described as "providing good service to clients."
  • John T. Knox, who joined the Firm in 1980 and was a name partner, expanded the base of what has become Nossaman's strong legislative and public service capability.  Prior to joining Nossaman, Mr. Knox was elected to the California Assembly in 1960 and served for two decades, including as Speaker Pro Tem from 1976-1980.  He is best known for authoring the Knox-Keene Act which established a regulatory framework for the previously chaotic field of prepaid health plans (HMOs), and numerous other landmark local government acts
  • Warren Elliott, who joined the Firm in 1980 and was a name partner, established the Firm’s Washington, D.C. office.  Before joining Nossaman, Mr. Elliott served as the powerful legislative assistant to the three-term Colorado Senator, Gordon Allott.  In 1973, he joined the private sector where he served as Associate General Counsel of the American Council of Life Insurance and then as Vice President and General Counsel of Aetna Life and Casualty Insurance Company.  While at Nossaman, Mr. Elliott served as a lobbyist for a panoply of clients, bringing his unique strengths and insight to bear on a full spectrum of appropriations, insurance, tax and healthcare legislation.

In recognition of its 75th anniversary, Nossaman would like to offer a heartfelt thanks to its current and former clients, attorneys, policy advisors and staff.  Without you, the Firm wouldn’t be where it is today.  Here’s to another 75 years!

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