Since 2004, San Luis Obispo County firm Carmel & Naccasha has expanded from its two founders to nine staff attorneys and five of-counsel attorneys by blending business and government agency law expertise. And perhaps no one is more surprised at the firm’s quick growth than partner Ziyad Naccasha, a San Luis Obispo native who moved to a big, cold city to pursue law and never through he’d get to return home.
After moving to San Luis Obispo as child, Naccasha graduated from Cal Poly and moved to Chicago for law school. After about a decade, he was passing through the city while his wife job hunted when he met Tim Carmel, another Central Coast native whom Naccasha had known growing up and who is now city attorney for the city of Arroyo Grande and a raft of water and community services districts throughout the county.
It turned out Naccasha’s wife, a Chicagoan, found the Central Coast pretty agreeable. Naccasha relocated and began pairing his business and ligitation expertise with Carmel’s deep experience in municipal law.
“I worked [in Chicago] for 12 years. I never actually expected to come back,” said Naccasha, whose family owned a restaurant on Laurel Lane. “I loved living here, but I had never developed any business here.”
It’s a different story now. In addition to a number of public agencies, the firm has also landed some large private-sector clients such as the Madonna Inn and the Hearst Corp., for which it handles local land use issues. Naccasha said those relationships are important because they provide the steady work needed to keep the doors open to smaller, one-off clients, who make up a big part of the work in smaller markets.
“We have a lot of people that come in say, ‘I need a contract reviewed,’ or ‘We need to buy a piece of commercial property,’ ” Naccasha said. “We have really driven our practice by being responsive, by providing really good service and trying to help clients with their business and personal needs.”
Carmel & Naccasha opened a Paso Robles branch for the increasing number of cases being heard at the North County courthouse and also routinely handles cases in federal court in Los Angeles, Naccasha said.
“People are saying, ‘Maybe I want a law firm in San Luis.’ I’ve actually been contacted by people in San Francisco to do all their leasing work because our firm charges half of what their firm does,” Naccasha said.
Taxpayer group wins
The Ventura County Taxpayers Association has nearly succeeded in its lawsuit to force the county’s retirement system to release the names of public pensioners earning more than $100,000 a year.
The taxpayer group asked for the names from the Ventura County Employees Retirement Association last fall. When the retirement association would not release the names, the taxpayer group sued.
Judge Henry Walsh ruled in principle in the taxpayers’ group favor on May 9. But Walsh declined to immediately release the names because there’s an appeal pending from a Sacramento County case, and a decision is expected soon.
In case you missed the action in the lawsuit, the Ventura County CPA/Law Society will be hosting a discussion about the pension system between the taxpayers group and the county’s management on May 27. The speakers will be Jim McDermott, the litigation counsel for the taxpayer’s group and a partner at Ferguson Case Orr Paterson in Ventura, and Matt Carroll, the assistant chief executive officer and chief of staff at the county of Ventura.
The event takes place from noon to 1:30 p.m. May 27 at the Spanish Hills Country Club in Camarillo. Tickets are $35 for members and $45 for non-members, and reservations are due by May 25. Email [email protected]
Sometimes stuff that sounds interesting in principle — such as urban agriculture, bartering or even simply sharing cars and other resources locally — can be tricky from a legal standpoint. The Santa Barbara Permaculture network is bringing two “sharing attorneys” down from Oakland to help explain it.
The talk is titled “The Legal Landscape of Social Enterprise and the Sharing Economy” and features Jenny Kassan and Janelle Orsi from the Sustainable Economies Law Center. The pair co-authored the American Bar Association’s forthcoming book, “Sharing Law: Understanding the Legal Landscape of the Sharing Economy.”
The event takes place at 7 p.m. June 3 at the Santa Barbara Public Library. The “donation” asked for admission is $10 for adults and $5 for students and seniors.