Tag Archives: Snell & Wilmer

environment.law

Snell & Wilmer Significantly Expands Environmental Group

Snell & Wilmer announced the addition of seven attorneys and a policy advisor to the firm’s environmental and natural resources group in Phoenix. These additions significantly expand Snell & Wilmer’s existing practice group to over 40 attorneys across its multiple offices throughout the western United States. The group joins the firm from Polsinelli, where it was recognized by notable industry publications such as Chambers USA: America’s Leading Lawyers for Business and The Best Lawyers in America®.

“We are thrilled to have this exceptional group of professionals join Snell & Wilmer,” said Matthew Feeney, a partner in Snell & Wilmer’s Phoenix office and a member of the firm’s executive committee. “Environmental and natural resources concerns impact businesses and government agencies in virtually every industry. With the expansion of this practice group, we are able to enhance our collective substantive knowledge and extensive experience throughout our geographic footprint and beyond to provide our clients with superior environmental and natural resources-related legal services.”

Snell & Wilmer welcomes the following individuals to the firm:

* Lucas Narducci has more than 27 years of experience in environmental and natural resources law. Narducci regularly guides clients through administrative hearings, litigation and other forms of dispute resolution, striving to protect their assets and keep their business goals in mind. He has extensive experience in acquisitions, divestments, expansions, mergers, ventures, operational compliance, employee workspace safety, workplace and third-party toxic exposures, audits, risk reductions and control methods. He also advises on policy and legislative developments that affect or could impact his clients and their businesses. He has been a lead counsel in the divestment, acquisition, operation, curtailment, reclamation and closure of several copper, gold, coal and uranium mines. Narducci’s practice has taken him across the United States, as well as to Canada, Mexico and several countries in South America. He participates in many significant business, industry and manufacturing associations in order to advance the interests of those associations and his clients, and to influence rule-making, regulatory, policy and legislative processes. He earned his J.D. from the University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law.

* Mitchell Klein has more than 30 years of trial experience across a wide variety of environmental and natural resources legal issues. He has extensive experience working with many state and federal agencies in all areas of natural resources and environmental law, and has litigated matters pursuant to the Clean Water Act, the Clean Air Act, Hazardous and Solid Waste regulations, and Superfund liability. Klein was previously an Assistant Attorney General for the State of Arizona for nearly 10 years, during which time he served as chief counsel for the Civil Unit of the Environmental Enforcement Section and was responsible for all environmental enforcement actions taken by the state. Klein earned his J.D. from the University of Illinois College of Law.

* John Burnside has more than 15 years of experience in environmental and natural resources law. His experience extends to and beyond Superfund cost recovery and defense, air and water quality permitting and enforcement, environmental insurance coverage placement and claims, environmental forensics, toxic tort defense and the contractual allocation of environmental liabilities. Burnside has also addressed corporate transactions involving extensive environmental due diligence and has ushered the transacting parties through the transfer of environmental permits and authorizations to the satisfaction of regulatory authorities. With respect to environmental insurance matters, he has assisted with evaluation, litigation and resolution of multi-site environmental insurance claims. Burnside earned his J.D. from Arizona State University Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law.

* Michael Ford has more than 15 years of experience working with clients ranging from religious orders to global corporations in navigating the complex web of environmental issues impacting industrial operations and commercial transactions. Ford focuses his practice on helping industrial and commercial entities on regulatory compliance, enforcement defense and transactional risk mitigation issues. He has helped clients efficiently resolve their government enforcement issues using voluntary disclosures, administrative settlement agreements and judicial consent decrees. Ford has worked extensively on issues impacting hardrock mines, including groundwater and surface water permitting and compliance, chemical reporting, release response and closure operations. He also has considerable experience in mobile source emissions compliance and enforcement defense under the Clean Air Act. His experience in Brownfields development includes project feasibility analysis and due diligence, contract negotiation, voluntary cleanup programs, tax credit qualification, remediation oversight and consultant management, environmental insurance and obtaining regulatory closure approval. Ford earned his J.D. from Washington University School of Law.

* Maribeth Klein concentrates her practice in the areas of environmental and natural resources law and environmental litigation. Klein’s transactional practice involves addressing various matters relating to mining, such as U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management procedures, requirements and permitting as well as permit transfer and amendment requirements for uranium mining licenses issued by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. She has assessed the permitting needs for several renewable energy projects including multiple utility-scale wind projects in Kansas and Oklahoma and planned biomass facilities on the East Coast. Klein served as in-house counsel on an interim basis for an international diversified natural resources company where she monitored proposed federal energy legislation and assessed the constitutionality of various proposals, counseled clients regarding technology license agreements and engineering services contracts, and assisted with a response to a Senate inquiry. Klein also has a broad range of experience in air quality matters on the county, state and federal levels in assisting clients with the permit process and in related compliance issues. She earned her J.D. from the University of Minnesota Law School.

* Margaret LaBianca focuses her practice on a broad range of strategic considerations and regulatory compliance issues. For more than 15 years, she has counseled on transactions, from due diligence and negotiations to drafting and effectuation, as well as operations and development. Among other areas of law, LaBianca’s practice encompasses water rights and water supply issues, the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), protected and endangered species, Section 404 permitting and public land use. She has devoted a significant amount of her practice to working with clients on issues presented by operating on or near land managed by the Bureau of Land Management, the U.S. Forest Service or the state. Her clients include miners, ranchers, developers, landowners and energy businesses. LaBianca earned her J.D. from the University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law.

* Amanda Reeve most recently served in the Arizona House of Representatives, where she was also chair of the House environment committee. Her experience ideally positions her as a key member of Snell & Wilmer’s environmental and natural resources team. Reeve provides public policy services to clients through stakeholder identification and organization, the regulatory process and reform, and the legislative process. She is well known for her ability to develop public policy and craft bipartisan support to advance bills of significant importance to Arizona businesses. She is extensively involved in numerous policy and regulatory processes impacting various media, including air, on the local, state and federal levels. Reeve earned her M.S. in Technology – Environmental Management from Arizona State University.

* Megan Tracy counsels domestic and international clients on regulatory compliance and environmental contamination matters. She represents clients in federal and state forums, as well as before regulatory agencies on a full range of environmental matters, including environmental response, compensation and liability, as well as the Clean Air Act, the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act, and the Toxic Substances Control Act. Tracy has extensive experience with the mining industry, including assisting clients with compliance matters involving domestic and international mining laws, remediation of abandoned mines and defense against enforcement actions. Tracy has also counseled clients on matters involving federal railroad regulations and Occupational Safety and Health Administration compliance. In addition, her litigation experience includes defending clients against claims of infectious disease outbreak and insurance recovery for environmental liability. Tracy earned her J.D. from the University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law.

Joan Brubacher, president and CFO, Beamz Interactive, Inc.

Fresh Start Women’s Foundation Selects Board

Fresh Start Women’s Foundation announced newly appointed leadership for fiscal year 2014 – 2015.

* Joan Brubacher, President, Chief Financial Officer, Beamz Interactive, Inc., Board Chair

* Terry Roman, Partner, Snell & Wilmer, L.L.P., Vice-chair

* Katie Scardello, Senior VP & Senior Client Manager, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Treasurer/Finance Chair

* Jude Miller-Burke, Ph.D., Executive Coach, JAMB Consulting, Secretary

Men’s Board: Brett Angner, Senior Vice President, Abart Properties Corporation, Board Chair

Fresh Start Women’s Foundation is dedicated to supporting women who want to thrive and empowers them to transform their lives through three core values: economic self-sufficiency, personal development and education. The Phoenix-based Jewell McFarland Lewis Fresh Start Women’s Resource Center offers free and low-cost services for any woman age 18 or older. Services include: counseling, mentoring, education, career services, legal services, child watch, an e-learning center and personal development/self esteem. Fresh Start also offers services in the East Valley at the Goodwill Career Center in Chandler and online at www.freshstartwomen.org.

bcgs

Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Scottsdale announces new board

The Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Scottsdale is pleased to announce the newest members to the non-profit’s Board of Governors:

  • Lee Nickloy – APS
  • Prescott Pohl – Snell & Wilmer
  • Kathleen Preston – Cox Communications
  • Ryan Rayburn – Lincoln Financial Advisors
  • Tom Traylor – Wells Fargo

“We are very thankful to have this great group of individuals serve on our board,” said Steve Davidson, President/CEO of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Scottsdale. “These dedicated community leaders generously give their time and professional expertise in effort to make sure that the needs of our local youth are being met.”

About Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Scottsdale
The Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Scottsdale, celebrating its 60th Anniversary throughout 2014, empowers 17,800 youth of all ages and backgrounds to develop the qualities needed to reach their full potential as productive, responsible citizens. The Club provides a safe place, caring adult mentors, fun, friendship and athletics, and high-impact youth development programs during critical non-school hours. Clubs are located in cities and on Native American lands in the greater Scottsdale area and promote academic success, positive character and citizenship, and healthy lifestyles. For more information, visit www.bgcs.org.

satellite

Aerospace forum coming to Greenberg Traurig

Members of Arizona’s business community are invited to the April meeting of the Arizona Aerospace & Defense Forum for an in-depth review of the benefits, risks, and challenges involving negotiating and performing an international agreements including compliance with myriad governmental laws and regulations throughout the world.

Greenberg Traurig, along with law firm Snell & Wilmer, partnered to expand the A&D Forum to Arizona last year. Each month, the A&D Forum alternates from meetings in Phoenix and Tucson.

The group’s next networking and educational session is Tuesday, April 8 from 7 to 9 a.m. at Greenberg Traurig’s Phoenix office at 24th Street and Camelback. The discussion will be led by Brett Johnson, co-chair of the international industry group and government relations group and a partner at Snell & Wilmer. Topics to be discussed include maximizing international supply chains, risks, benefits and challenges related to international law and the aerospace and defense industry.

WHAT: The Next Frontier: Maximizing A&D Foreign Market Opportunities through Understanding International Agreements

WHERE: Greenberg Traurig, 2375 E. Camelback Rd., #700, Phoenix, AZ 85016

WHEN: Tuesday, April 8, 2014; 7 – 7:30 a.m.: Registration/Continental Breakfast/Networking; 7:30 – 9 a.m.: Meeting

COST: A&D Forum Member: Free, Non-member: $40

RSVP: To register click here

SPEAKER: Brett Johnson is a partner and Co-Chair of International Industry Group and Government Relations Group with Snell & Wilmer, L.L.P. His practice includes international transactions and compliance, export, government contracting and health care matters, including professional liability defense and commercial litigation. Brett regularly represents parties and witnesses involved with governmental investigations, including export control, False Claims Act, Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, and government procurement compliance laws and regulations. He has experience handling internal investigations and compliance audits for clients on a wide range of matters. Brett also provides training to businesses and governmental agencies concerning compliance matters and the drafting of related corporate policies and international agreements.

drug

Herold Joins DrugFreeAz.org Board

Rick Herold, partner in the Phoenix law office of Snell & Wilmer, has been elected to serve on the Board of Directors of DrugFreeAz.org. As a member of the board of directors Herold will provide financial and fundraising strategies that will help guide and sustain the organization. DrugFreeAz.org’s mission is to prevent and reduce the use of drugs and alcohol by youth throughout Arizona.

“We are delighted to welcome Rick to our board of directors,” said Leslie Bloom, CEO of DrugFreeAz.org. “His background, education and knowledge will be a valuable asset to our team, and will help us reach our mission of reducing youth drug and alcohol use throughout our community.”

Herold earned his bachelor’s degree from Emory University and law degree from the George Washington University School of Law. He also serves on the Ethics Committee of the State Bar of Arizona and has served as a Judge Pro Tempore on the Maricopa County Superior Court and is active with the Volunteer Lawyers’ Program, the Valley of the Sun United Way’s Resource Management Committee, the Urban Land Institute and the Economic Club of Phoenix.

Panel will discuss Cybersecurity at GPEC

Members of Arizona’s business community are invited to the February meeting of the Arizona Aerospace & Defense Forum for a discussion centered on cyber-security including risks, trends and what businesses need to keep their businesses safe and secure online.

This event will be hosted at the offices of Greater Phoenix Economic Council (GPEC) located at 2 N. Central Ave Suite 2500 Phoenix, Arizona 85004. The event is scheduled for Tuesday, Feb.11 from 8 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. There will be networking from 7:30 a.m. to 8 a.m.

The forum will be led by panelists Bill Ross, vice president of information security solutions at General Dynamics C4 Systems; Ty Lindteigen, chief technology officer at SAIFE; Raz Yalov, chief technology officer of 41Parameters and Nadya Bliss, director of strategic project development at Arizona State University.

Greenberg Traurig, along with law firm Snell & Wilmer, were instrumental in the formation of the Arizona Chapter of the Aerospace and Defense Forum. Each month, the A&D Forum alternates from meetings in Phoenix and Tucson.

Registration required by going here.

Ivan Rosenberg, president and CEO of Frontier Associates is the executive director and co-founder of A&D Forum. Stephane Frijia, director, research and strategy at the Greater Phoenix Economic Council serves as Chapter Chair of the Arizona A&D Forum.

Currently, there are more than 700 international leaders involved in the A&D Forum. Other A&D Chapters are located in Los Angeles, San Diego and Orange County, Calif. In Arizona, there are more than 2,000 companies in the aerospace and defense industry providing more than 43,000 jobs and significant positive economic impact.

Aerospace and defense industry - AZ Business Magazine March/April 2012

Aerospace & Defense Forum launches Arizona Chapter

The Aerospace & Defense Forum, a global aerospace and defense organization promoting collaboration and commerce among industry leaders, has established an Arizona chapter which will launch in October.

An impressive line-up of Arizona business leaders will lead the Arizona Chapter Steering Committee and host monthly meetings and networking events. The Phoenix meetings will be hosted by the international law firm Greenberg Traurig and the Tucson meetings will be hosted by law firm Snell & Wilmer. Monthly chapter meetings will take place the second Tuesday of each month, alternating between Phoenix and Tucson, and include networking opportunities, presentations by aerospace and defense industry experts and small group discussions and at least once a year, a tour of an A&D facility not generally available to the public.

Ivan Rosenberg, President and CEO of Frontier Associates is the Executive Director and Co-Founder of A&D Forum. Stephane Frijia, Director, Research and Strategy at the Greater Phoenix Economic Council will serve as Chapter Chair of the Arizona A&D Forum.

In addition, those serving on the founding Arizona A&D Steering Committee include:
* Jerry Fellows, Shareholder, Greenberg Traurig, Phoenix
* Brett Johnson, Partner, Snell & Wilmer, Phoenix
* Richard Katz, Counsel, Snell & Wilmer, Tucson
* Bruce Macdonough, Co-Managing Shareholder, Greenberg Traurig, Phoenix
* Peter Vedder, Director, Civil Space and Space Services, General Dynamics C4 Systems

“We’re thrilled to bring this proven collaborative format to the Arizona A&D community,” said Rosenberg. “A&D companies have discovered that A&D Forum membership and group involvement provides an unmatched source of new ideas for improving both their top and bottom lines, as well as a forum for learning best practices and solving problems.”

The inaugural meeting of the Arizona chapter will take place Oct. 8, with a keynote presentation by Lt. Gen. Gene Tattini, Deputy Director, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), entitled,  “Dare Mighty Things: Turning Around Two A&D Organizations.” Tattini is also former Commander of the United States Air Force Space and Missile System Center.

Currently, there are more than 700 international leaders involved in the A&D Forum. Other A&D Chapters are located in Los Angeles, San Diego and Orange County, Calif. In Arizona, there are more than 2,000 companies in the aerospace and defense industry providing more than 43,000 jobs and significant positive economic impact.

“The Greater Phoenix Economic Council reported more than $13 billion in defense contracts with Arizona ties in 2012 alone. These high-paying jobs make a significant economic impact in our state and we are proud to support and encourage industry growth,” said Greenberg Traurig Co-Managing Shareholder Bruce Macdonough. “We also look forward to raising the visibility of Arizona a top-tier destination for the best aerospace and defense companies to grow and prosper.”

Each monthly meeting is free of charge, but registration is required. To RSVP for the Oct. 8 meeting, visit: https://adfazoct13.eventbrite.com.

Aerospace and defense industry - AZ Business Magazine March/April 2012

Aerospace & Defense Forum launches Arizona Chapter

The Aerospace & Defense Forum, a global aerospace and defense organization promoting collaboration and commerce among industry leaders, has established an Arizona chapter which will launch in October.

An impressive line-up of Arizona business leaders will lead the Arizona Chapter Steering Committee and host monthly meetings and networking events. The Phoenix meetings will be hosted by the international law firm Greenberg Traurig and the Tucson meetings will be hosted by law firm Snell & Wilmer. Monthly chapter meetings will take place the second Tuesday of each month, alternating between Phoenix and Tucson, and include networking opportunities, presentations by aerospace and defense industry experts and small group discussions and at least once a year, a tour of an A&D facility not generally available to the public.

Ivan Rosenberg, President and CEO of Frontier Associates is the Executive Director and Co-Founder of A&D Forum. Stephane Frijia, Director, Research and Strategy at the Greater Phoenix Economic Council will serve as Chapter Chair of the Arizona A&D Forum.

In addition, those serving on the founding Arizona A&D Steering Committee include:
* Jerry Fellows, Shareholder, Greenberg Traurig, Phoenix
* Brett Johnson, Partner, Snell & Wilmer, Phoenix
* Richard Katz, Counsel, Snell & Wilmer, Tucson
* Bruce Macdonough, Co-Managing Shareholder, Greenberg Traurig, Phoenix
* Peter Vedder, Director, Civil Space and Space Services, General Dynamics C4 Systems

“We’re thrilled to bring this proven collaborative format to the Arizona A&D community,” said Rosenberg. “A&D companies have discovered that A&D Forum membership and group involvement provides an unmatched source of new ideas for improving both their top and bottom lines, as well as a forum for learning best practices and solving problems.”

The inaugural meeting of the Arizona chapter will take place Oct. 8, with a keynote presentation by Lt. Gen. Gene Tattini, Deputy Director, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), entitled,  “Dare Mighty Things: Turning Around Two A&D Organizations.” Tattini is also former Commander of the United States Air Force Space and Missile System Center.

Currently, there are more than 700 international leaders involved in the A&D Forum. Other A&D Chapters are located in Los Angeles, San Diego and Orange County, Calif. In Arizona, there are more than 2,000 companies in the aerospace and defense industry providing more than 43,000 jobs and significant positive economic impact.

“The Greater Phoenix Economic Council reported more than $13 billion in defense contracts with Arizona ties in 2012 alone. These high-paying jobs make a significant economic impact in our state and we are proud to support and encourage industry growth,” said Greenberg Traurig Co-Managing Shareholder Bruce Macdonough. “We also look forward to raising the visibility of Arizona a top-tier destination for the best aerospace and defense companies to grow and prosper.”

Each monthly meeting is free of charge, but registration is required. To RSVP for the Oct. 8 meeting, visit: https://adfazoct13.eventbrite.com.

AB's Top Lawyer's List, AZ Business Magazine Mar/Apr 2011

Delta Dental names Director of Legal Affairs

Delta Dental of Arizona is pleased to announce the hiring of Anne Bishop as the dental insurance company’s Director of Legal Affairs and Compliance.

“We are thrilled to welcome Anne to the Delta Dental team,” said Allan Allford, CEO for Delta Dental of Arizona. “Her expertise in health care law will be an asset as we prepare for the launch of private dental exchanges and other aspects of the Affordable Care Act.”

A magna cum laude graduate of Arizona State University’s Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law, she has extensive commercial and healthcare litigation experience. Prior to joining Delta Dental, Bishop served as an associate attorney for Snell & Wilmer L.L.P. in Phoenix, where she focused on health care services, health care transactions, compliance and regulatory matters.

Bishop’s expertise includes seven years of experience analyzing and researching legal issues in healthcare, advising clients on HIPAA and other healthcare compliance issues, and coordinating intra-company fraud investigations. In addition, Bishop spent nearly 14 years with the National Security Agency, where she received more than a dozen awards for outstanding performance and exceptional contributions to the intelligence community. Bishop also holds a bachelor of arts in international relations from the University of Pennsylvania.

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Women to watch in healthcare, energy, aerospace and technology

Here are some of the the Arizona innnovators who Az Business magazine thinks will be making waves in healthcare, energy, aerospace and technology in 2013:

Ruth Carter
Owner, Carter Law Firm
carterlawaz.com
Her background: After graduating from ASU Law School in 2011, she opened her own law firm in January 2012 and focused her practice on social media law, intellectual property, business formation and contracts, and flash mob law. She will deliver a talk entitled “Protecting Your Copyrights in Digital Media” at the South By Southwest Interactive (SXSW) in March 2013. She also wrote the book “The Legal Side of Blogging: How Not to get Sued, Fired, Arrested, or Killed.”
Fun fact: She was selected as an American Bar Association Legal Rebel in September 2012.
Her goal for 2013: To help entrepreneurs, writers, and artists turn their ideas into reality, to help them push the limits of what’s possible without crossing the line.

Michelle De Blasi
Shareholder, Greenberg Traurig
gtlaw.com
Her background: De Blasi focuses her practice on environmental law, with an emphasis on natural resources matters. She advises local and multi-national clients on energy and environmental sustainability, including the development of traditional and renewable energy power plants, climate change, and greenhouse gas emissions. She is a leader in many community organizations, including serving as the Co-Chair of the Arizona Energy Consortium, which has recently released the Arizona Energy Roadmap to further develop the state’s energy industry.
Fun fact: “I wanted to be an environmental attorney since junior high.  Working for six years at NOAA starting in law school was an amazing way to begin my career.”
Her goal for 2013: “Continue to assist my clients’ growth and expansion, including improving the regulatory and business atmosphere in the areas where they are located.”

MaryAnn Guerra
CEO, BioAccel
bioaccel.org
Her background: BioAccel was named the most promising initiative among the six winners of SSTI’s 2012 Excellence in TBED (technology-based economic development) awards. In three years, BioAccel — whose mission is to transform high-risk technologies into new businesses and high-wage jobs — has supported 11 companies in Arizona, investing more than $4 million directly as well as helping get an additional $15.5 million in downstream funding.
Fun fact: “I love camping outdoors in tents. After gathering wood from the forest, I  build the campfire, cook, then relax under the moonlight — with wine if possible.”
Her goal for 2013: “Personally: spend more time with my husband.  Professionally: expand BioAccel’s overall capacity, validate BioInspire as a model and help launch the BioAccel Accelerator Fund.”

Chevy Humphrey
President and CEO, Arizona Science Center
azscience.org
Her background: She oversees the $8 million operation of Arizona Science Center’s 185,000-square-foot facilities with more than 400 employees and volunteers. She is in line to become the next president of the Association of Science-Technology Centers, an international organization representing science centers and museums with more than 600 members in over 40 countries worldwide. She currently serves as its secretary-treasurer.
Fun fact: Humphrey secured the largest gift in the Center’s history – $3.5 million.
Her goal for 2013: “Maintain excellence as Arizona’s largest provider of informal science education while providing educators with professional development and resources supporting the new common core education standards.”

Mary Juetten
Founder and CEO, Traklight.com
traklight.com
Her background: While earning her JD at ASU, Juetten combined her new knowledge of the law with accounting designations and 25 years of management, business and financial consulting experience to create Traklight.com in 2010.  Traklight is an online software as service company that offers products for inventors, creators, start-up or small companies to identify, secure, and manage their intellectual property to reduce the risk of infringement and IP loss, all without any prior knowledge of IP.
Fun fact: She played ice hockey in Canada and Phoenix.
Her goal for 2013: “I plan to spend more time outside with my husband: golfing and hiking.  Traklight will build upon our October launch and expand nationally in 2013.”

Kim Kundert
Vice president of clinical operations
Clinical Research Advantage
Her background: Kundert received the 2012 Silver Stevie Award — which honors the world’s bets and brightest female entrepreneurs and executives — for Female Executive of the Year in the Business Services category. Kundert has been a driving force behind the rapid growth of CRA, a clinical trial management organization that has helped trial sponsors bring drugs to market more quickly and efficiently.
Fun fact: She was born in Germany on Christmas Day.
Her goal for 2013: “My goal is to open 20 new clinical trial sites.”

Jessica Langbaum
Principal scientist, Banner Alzheimer’s Institute
banneralz.org
Her background: Langbaum is actively involved in research activities focusing on the use of brain imaging for studying the earliest evidence of Alzheimer’s and on the design and execution of preclinical Alzheimer’s treatment trials. Langbaum has published papers in leading scientific journals on cognitive training, brain imaging and Alzheimer’s disease.
Fun fact: Her family has been in Arizona for generations.
Her goal for 2013: “Enroll 100,000 people in our Alzheimer’s Prevention Registry (endALZnow.org/registry), launch the Alzheimer’s Prevention Initiative (API)/Genentech trial, prepare for the next API-led trial, and potty train my son.”

Paula O’Neal Wichterman
Vice president, medical private banker, National Bank of Arizona
nbarizona.com
Her background: Wichterman is vice president in the Private Bank of National Bank of Arizona. Prior to joining NB|AZ, she spent 9 years in various advisor roles at two other lending institutions in both private banking and credit administration. In her role at NB|AZ, Wichterman is responsible for increasing NB|AZ’s focus on the physician and medical banking market.
Fun fact: “Being the Southern girl that I am, I LOVE to shoot sporting clays. It is a great stress reliever after a long week at work.”
Her goal for 2013: “I want to always inspire my family and friends. I try my best to lead by example. Whether it is at home or at work, I want to be the best that I can be.”

Angela Perez
Partner, Snell & Wilmer
swlaw.com
Her background: Perez is an Arizona native who holds a biology degree from Harvard University and law degree from The University of Arizona. She practices law in the field of business and finance, with special attention to representing clients in the biotechnology industry. Perez represents companies at all stages of their life cycle, from start-up to liquidity. Perez is committed to using her education and experience to improve the strength of Arizona’s economy by facilitating the growth of Arizona’s biotech industry.
Fun fact: Formed Snell & Wilmer’s Bioscience and Healthcare Industry Group shortly after graduating from law school.
Her goal for 2013: “Contribute to the success of my firm and clients by providing sound legal advice; support Arizona’s biotech industry; and shower my young family with love.”

Darcy Renfro
Vice president and coordinator of the Arizona STEM Network, Science Foundation Arizona (SFAz)
sfaz.org
Her background: Renfro is leading the way for Arizona’s STEM — science, technology, engineering, math — education initiatives. She spearheaded the development of SFAz’s Arizona STEM Network, a first-of-its-kind strategic effort to help transform Arizona’s educational system. The Network will help teachers and students prepare for the state-adopted, internationally benchmarked Common Core Standards, higher-education and careers that will help ensure our state remains globally competitive.
Fun fact: Arizona is just one of 16 states in the U.S. with developing or existing STEM Networks.
Her goal for 2013: “Increase the access and quality of STEM opportunities for Arizona’s students and teachers to inspire excitement and achievement in math and science.”

Virginia Rybski
President and CEO, Regenesis Biomedical, Inc.
regenesisbio.com
Her background: Rybski has combined 35 years of experience founding, building and growing emerging bioscience companies by developing and launching numerous advanced-technology, healthcare related products. She strategically positioned the company as a regenerative medicine business; raised $5.3 million in capital; has grows sales for 8 consecutive years; and helped it earn a position on the Inc. 5000 list of the fastest-growing private companies in America in 2012.
Fun fact:
Her goal for 2013: “Focus on improving patient care, and helping to provide better patient outcomes while lowering the overall cost of care. Healthcare, now more than ever, needs collaboration between providers, patients, and manufacturers like Regenesis, to help rein in spiraling costs.”

Joyce Schroeder
Chief science officer, Arizona Cancer Therapeutics
arizonacancertherapeutics.com
Her background: Schroeder, program co-leader in Cancer Biology and Genetics at the Arizona Cancer Center, is moving toward clinical trials for breast cancer treatment that inhibits metastatic breast cancer growth at cellular level and it is non-toxic. In layman’s terms, this could block breast cancer growth without the toxic side effects of chemotherapy. She is also associate professor of molecular and cellular biology at the University of Arizona.
Fun fact: She is an avid Stephen King reader and loves Star Wars.
Her goal for 2013: “My goal for 2013 is to get our breast cancer drug approved by the FDA to be given to patients.”

Lori Singleton
Manager of Sustainability Initiatives and Technologies, SRP
srpnet.com
Her background: Singleton’s primary focus at SRP is environmental and renewable energy issues. Under her direction, SRP has provided incentives to more than 12,000 customers who have installed solar energy systems on their homes and businesses. In addition, she is an active volunteer and effective advocate serving on the boards of Audubon of Arizona and the National Solar Energy Power Association.
Fun fact: “Ballroom dancing is my passion. For me, it not only helps keep me physically fit but allows me to focus on something other than looming deadlines and work projects.”
Her goal for 2013: “As a Valley Forward board member, I will work to promote environmental quality statewide, elevate our state’s image and drive balanced policy as the organization evolves into Arizona Forward.”

Joy Seitz
Vice president of business and policy development, American Solar
americanpv.com
Her background: Since joining Scottsdale-based American Solar in 2009, Seitz has been a leading advocate for Arizona’s solar industry, making her presence felt everywhere that decisions are made about solar energy — city halls, Salt River Project and the Arizona Corporation Commission. Her company has designed and installed solar electric for more than 3,500 customers and created partnership with homebuilders including Shea Homes and AV Homes.
Fun fact: “I am a proud ASU West Campus graduate from the School of Global Management and Leadership, with an emphasis in finance.”
Her goal for 2013: “To put the power of solar energy into the hand of every homeowner. It is time that every Arizona homeowner understands that they can control what energy powers their home.”

Lois Wardell
Principal, Arapahoe SciTech
arapahost.com
Her background: Wardell’s technology focus includes unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and associated sensor technologies.  By developing partnerships with other innovators, she has been able to tackle technical challenges in emerging fields such as those in polar science. One example is a sterilization system for an ice drill that will access an Antarctic sub-glacial lake below a half-mile of ice to explore this unknown frontier on our planet.
Fun fact: Wardell has worked on all seven continents.
Her goal for 2013: “My goals include continued development of technology for exploration (both Earth and beyond) and to increase my focus on outreach activities to inspire students.”

Arizona Economic Forecast 2011

Arizona Bankers Association rejects bankruptcy court theory

On February 7, The Arizona Bankers Association joined 10 other western state bankers associations along with the American Bankers Association on a brief (the associations’ brief) to the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals urging the reversal of a Ninth Circuit Bankruptcy Appellate Panel (the BAP) decision with far reaching and negative implications for real estate lenders in the western United States.

The lower court decision essentially would allow small creditors in chapter 11 bankruptcies to make the decision on whether to accept the reorganization plan, disregarding the needs of the holder of the largest claim.  It does this by segregating claims with potential and speculative third party sources of payment from the rest of the unsecured class of claimants.

“Allowing a third party guarantee to actually diminish a real estate lender’s rights in bankruptcy makes responsible underwriting that much more difficult,” said Paul Hickman with the Arizona Bankers Association.  Having a third party source of repayment adds flexibility to underwriting and ultimately allows real estate lenders to qualify more borrowers.  “Now we potentially have case law in this district that not only makes that inconsequential, but could make the deal less attractive to a lender,” said Hickman.

The lower court’s decision allows the debtor to gerrymander the creditor classes to permit a small class of unsecured claimants with a relatively small aggregate claim to accept the reorganization plan over the objection of the single asset real estate lender with a much larger claim.  The associations’ brief asserts that the lower court’s “theory . . . contradicts historical bankruptcy policy, drowns plan classification in an interpretive swamp with no logical bottom, and undermines policies on good lending practice.”

The case is In re Loop 76, LLC, Case No. 12-60021, which appeals a BAP decision, In re Loop, LLC, 465 B.R. 525 (9th Cir. BAP 2012).  The BAP decision affirmed four orders of the Arizona bankruptcy court, In re Loop 76, LLC, 442 B.R. 713 (Bankr. D. Ariz. 2010).

The 109-year-old Arizona Bankers Association represents commercial and community banks operating in the State of Arizona, irrespective of asset size or deposit base.

Download the AMICUS CURIAE BRIEF here.

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Are Arizona’s anti-deficiency statutes feeding the bubble?

Jack and Jill were living the American dream. They bought their dream house in 2006. Then, the economy spiraled downward. Jack lost his job. Housing values dropped, and the amount remaining on Jack and Jill’s mortgage exceeded the value of the property — commonly known as having a house that is “under water.”

Jack and Jill didn’t want to pay the mortgage any more, so they walked away, leaving the bank to clean up the mess from their financial misstep.

They were able to do that because of Arizona’s anti-deficiency statute, which says that if a person or corporation owns a residential property on 2.5 acres or less that is used as a dwelling, the owner is not responsible for any deficiency occurring after a foreclosure, according to Lynne B. Herndon, city president for BBVA Compass.

“The difference between the fair market value of the home — or the amount that the foreclosure sale brings — and the loan balance is known as a deficiency,” said Paul Hickman, president and CEO of the Arizona Bankers Association. “In Arizona, the bank suffers that loss, not the homeowner who walks away from the home.”

But it’s not only the homeowners — whom the statutes were intended to protect — who are catching the breaks.

“Unfortunately, the statute has been interpreted more broadly than originally intended such that properties used for investment are also covered,” Herndon said.

Arizona is one of only 12 states that has some form of anti-deficiency protection. Of the 12, Herndon said Arizona has the most liberal statute.

“This statute absolutely contributed to the housing bubble as investors both in this state and outside of the state knew they could buy residential real estate in Arizona and walk away if the investment became negative,” Herndon said. “Homeowners in this state have experienced larger declines in home value due to this statute allowing investors to speculate and walk away.”

The incidence of homeowners like Jack and Jill walking away from their home, avoiding hundreds of thousands of dollars of negative equity in their home, and legally sticking their lenders with a loss and became an all-too-common move during the Recession, experts said.

“In my view, the average borrower was not likely aware of the finer points of the anti-deficiency statutes when determining whether to purchase a home,” said Jennifer Hadley Dioguardi, a partner in Snell & Wilmer’s Phoenix office. “However, once the housing market crashed, the anti-deficiency statutes likely caused some homeowners who had the means to make their mortgage payments to decide to simply walk away from the residence given the fact that the lender had no recourse against them other than to foreclose upon the residence once the residence was under water. The borrower was not responsible for the deficiency. This likely contributed to some homeowners who could pay their mortgage simply walking away from the property and leaving the lender on the hook.”

Experts believe that homeowners and investors who seized the opportunity to take advantage of Arizona’s anti-deficiency statutes to protect their own financial futures, might be stifling the state’s chance at an economic recovery and exacerbating the economic collapse.

“The broadness of the deficiency statute has had an overall negative impact not just on the banking industry, but more importantly, Arizona’s long-term economy,” said Keith Maio, president and chief executive officer of National Bank of Arizona. “Arizona’s statute is the most liberally interpreted of the 12 non-recourse/deficiency states, the majority of which limit the protection to primary residences or some other means that limit its contribution to speculation. In Arizona, it allows investors to finance their speculation in housing, risk-free. If their investment does not work out, they don’t have to pay back the difference between what they sold the home for and what they owe. This statute was intended to protect homeowners, but what it has really done is hurt traditional homeowners by opening them up to large swings in housing values. I believe the impact, while negatively effecting banks earnings, is greater on the homeowners in the community at large.”

Despite the impact on the overall economy, it’s still been the banks who take the initial and biggest hit because they are often precluded from recovering the balance of the loan deficiency from the foreclosed borrower. While short sales are not protected by the Arizona’s anti-deficiency statutes, lenders have often been willing to agree to short sales and reduce or otherwise waive deficiency claims, because lenders know they could not otherwise recover loan deficiencies, should the borrower elect to foreclose.

“The deficiency statute has led to greater losses for residential lenders in Arizona because they cannot obtain a judgment against the borrower who may have the ability to repay the deficiency,” Kevin Sellers, executive vice president of First Fidelity Bank. “Lenders’ inability to pursue the borrower for the deficiency creates an environment that results in a higher incidence of strategic defaults.”

The biggest problem for lenders may be that it doesn’t appear that they will get any relief from lawmakers. Dioguardi said properties initially covered by the anti-deficiency statutes had to be two and one-half acres or less and utilized either for a single one-family or a single two-family dwelling. This language was interpreted by the Arizona Supreme Court to require that the dwelling be built and at least occasionally occupied.

“However, a recent decision by the Arizona Court of Appeals has extended the anti-deficiency protection to cover a residence that was not yet constructed and in which the borrowers had never resided,” Dioguardi said. “The Court found that even though the home was never utilized for a residence as required by the statute, because the borrowers intended to live in the single-family home upon its completion, they were subject to the protections of the anti-deficiency statute.”

The court decision, Dioguardi said, needs to be refined to protect both lenders and borrowers.

“Given that the Arizona Supreme Court declined the petition for review of the decision, the legislature should amend the statute to make it even clearer that the borrower must physically inhabit the property to claim the protection of the anti-deficiency statute,” she said. “The current risk to lenders created by the decision as it currently stands will likely drive up the cost of construction loans.”

Bank executives also believe that amending — not necessarily getting rid of — the state anti-deficiency statutes is what the banking industry needs to continue on the road to post-Recession economic recovery.

“A very reasonable solution proposed by the Arizona banking community is to simply require that a property protected from a deficiency judgment be the primary residence of you or a member of your family as already defined in Arizona’s property tax statues,” Maio said. “This will have the effect of limiting this protection for homeowners, which is what was intended. Those in our Arizona business community that oppose this type of change are motivated by their own special interests. Those whose real motivation is to profit on speculative investment or from the fees and commissions that come from buying and selling speculative homes for profit, you will oppose this type of change. But for the rest of us that want to protect Arizonans from future bubbles and encourage a long-term and sustainable economy, we should support this simple change, as it is in our best long-term interest.”

home.prices

Are Arizona’s anti-deficiency statutes feeding the bubble?

Jack and Jill were living the American dream. They bought their dream house in 2006. Then, the economy spiraled downward. Jack lost his job. Housing values dropped, and the amount remaining on Jack and Jill’s mortgage exceeded the value of the property — commonly known as having a house that is “under water.”

Jack and Jill didn’t want to pay the mortgage any more, so they walked away, leaving the bank to clean up the mess from their financial misstep.

They were able to do that because of Arizona’s anti-deficiency statute, which says that if a person or corporation owns a residential property on 2.5 acres or less that is used as a dwelling, the owner is not responsible for any deficiency occurring after a foreclosure, according to Lynne B. Herndon, city president for BBVA Compass.

“The difference between the fair market value of the home — or the amount that the foreclosure sale brings — and the loan balance is known as a deficiency,” said Paul Hickman, president and CEO of the Arizona Bankers Association. “In Arizona, the bank suffers that loss, not the homeowner who walks away from the home.”

But it’s not only the homeowners — whom the statutes were intended to protect — who are catching the breaks.

“Unfortunately, the statute has been interpreted more broadly than originally intended such that properties used for investment are also covered,” Herndon said.
Arizona is one of only 12 states that has some form of anti-deficiency protection. Of the 12, Herndon said Arizona has the most liberal statute.

“This statute absolutely contributed to the housing bubble as investors both in this state and outside of the state knew they could buy residential real estate in Arizona and walk away if the investment became negative,” Herndon said. “Homeowners in this state have experienced larger declines in home value due to this statute allowing investors to speculate and walk away.”

The incidence of homeowners like Jack and Jill walking away from their home, avoiding hundreds of thousands of dollars of negative equity in their home, and legally sticking their lenders with a loss and became an all-too-common move during the Recession, experts said.

“In my view, the average borrower was not likely aware of the finer points of the anti-deficiency statutes when determining whether to purchase a home,” said Jennifer Hadley Dioguardi, a partner in Snell & Wilmer’s Phoenix office. “However, once the housing market crashed, the anti-deficiency statutes likely caused some homeowners who had the means to make their mortgage payments to decide to simply walk away from the residence given the fact that the lender had no recourse against them other than to foreclose upon the residence once the residence was under water. The borrower was not responsible for the deficiency. This likely contributed to some homeowners who could pay their mortgage simply walking away from the property and leaving the lender on the hook.”

Experts believe that homeowners and investors who seized the opportunity to take advantage of Arizona’s anti-deficiency statutes to protect their own financial futures, might be stifling the state’s chance at an economic recovery and exacerbating the economic collapse.

“The broadness of the deficiency statute has had an overall negative impact not just on the banking industry, but more importantly, Arizona’s long-term economy,” said Keith Maio, president and chief executive officer of National Bank of Arizona. “Arizona’s statute is the most liberally interpreted of the 12 non-recourse/deficiency states, the majority of which limit the protection to primary residences or some other means that limit its contribution to speculation. In Arizona, it allows investors to finance their speculation in housing, risk-free. If their investment does not work out, they don’t have to pay back the difference between what they sold the home for and what they owe. This statute was intended to protect homeowners, but what it has really done is hurt traditional homeowners by opening them up to large swings in housing values. I believe the impact, while negatively effecting banks earnings, is greater on the homeowners in the community at large.”

Despite the impact on the overall economy, it’s still been the banks who take the initial and biggest hit because they are often precluded from recovering the balance of the loan deficiency from the foreclosed borrower. While short sales are not protected by the Arizona’s anti-deficiency statutes, lenders have often been willing to agree to short sales and reduce or otherwise waive deficiency claims, because lenders know they could not otherwise recover loan deficiencies, should the borrower elect to foreclose.

“The deficiency statute has led to greater losses for residential lenders in Arizona because they cannot obtain a judgment against the borrower who may have the ability to repay the deficiency,” Kevin Sellers, executive vice president of First Fidelity Bank. “Lenders’ inability to pursue the borrower for the deficiency creates an environment that results in a higher incidence of strategic defaults.”

The biggest problem for lenders may be that it doesn’t appear that they will get any relief from lawmakers. Dioguardi said properties initially covered by the anti-deficiency statutes had to be two and one-half acres or less and utilized either for a single one-family or a single two-family dwelling. This language was interpreted by the Arizona Supreme Court to require that the dwelling be built and at least occasionally occupied.

“However, a recent decision by the Arizona Court of Appeals has extended the anti-deficiency protection to cover a residence that was not yet constructed and in which the borrowers had never resided,” Dioguardi said. “The Court found that even though the home was never utilized for a residence as required by the statute, because the borrowers intended to live in the single-family home upon its completion, they were subject to the protections of the anti-deficiency statute.”

The court decision, Dioguardi said, needs to be refined to protect both lenders and borrowers.

“Given that the Arizona Supreme Court declined the petition for review of the decision, the legislature should amend the statute to make it even clearer that the borrower must physically inhabit the property to claim the protection of the anti-deficiency statute,” she said. “The current risk to lenders created by the decision as it currently stands will likely drive up the cost of construction loans.”

Bank executives also believe that amending — not necessarily getting rid of — the state anti-deficiency statutes is what the banking industry needs to continue on the road to post-Recession economic recovery.

“A very reasonable solution proposed by the Arizona banking community is to simply require that a property protected from a deficiency judgment be the primary residence of you or a member of your family as already defined in Arizona’s property tax statues,” Maio said. “This will have the effect of limiting this protection for homeowners, which is what was intended. Those in our Arizona business community that oppose this type of change are motivated by their own special interests. Those whose real motivation is to profit on speculative investment or from the fees and commissions that come from buying and selling speculative homes for profit, you will oppose this type of change. But for the rest of us that want to protect Arizonans from future bubbles and encourage a long-term and sustainable economy, we should support this simple change, as it is in our best long-term interest.”

gavel

Arizona’s Top Lawyers – 2012 Environmental – Estate & Trust Lit

Arizona Business Magazine used its own research, solicited input from legal experts, and referenced professional ratings and rankings to determine the legal professionals who made the 2012 Top Lawyers list.


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Categories

BankingHealthcare
Business/Corporate LawIntellectual Property
Construction LitigationMergers and Acquisitions
Employment/Labor
Relations
Real Estate
Environmental LawSecurities and Corporate Finance
Estate and Trust LitigationTax

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ENVIRONMENTAL LAW

Charles A. Bischoff ◆ Jorden Bischoff & Hiser PLC
480-505-3900 ◆ jordenbischoff.com
Bischoff practices in the areas of environmental and natural resources law.

Peter Culp ◆ Squire Sanders
602-528-4063 ◆ squiresanders.com
Culp’s practices includes representing various industrial and municipal clients with regard to facility siting, permitting, regulatory compliance and environmental cleanup matters arising under the major federal and state environmental laws.

Barton D. Day ◆ Polsinelli Shughart PC
602-650-2330 ◆ polsinelli.com
Day has been assisting clients with environmental and other regulatory matters for more than 25 years.

David P. Kimball, III ◆ Gallagher & Kennedy, P.A.
602-530-8130 ◆ gknet.com
Kimball is head of the firm’s environmental and natural resources department and is recognized nationally as an expert in all areas of federal, state and local environmental and natural resources law.

Michelle A. De Blasi ◆ Quarles & Brady LLP
602-229-5448 ◆ quarles.com
De Blasi is chair of the Solar Energy Law Team and focuses her practice on guiding renewable energy projects from concept to completion.

Michael C. Ford ◆ Polsinelli Shughart
602-650-2321 ◆ polsinelli.com
Ford has worked with clients ranging from religious orders to global corporations in navigating the complex web of environmental issues impacting real estate deals and industrial operations.

Ryan Hurley ◆ Rose Law Group
480-240-5585 ◆ roselawgroup.com
Hurley assists renewable energy clients with a variety of issues from entity planning, power purchase negotiations, and various regulatory and compliance issues.

Patrick J. Paul ◆ Snell & Wilmer L.L.P.
602-382-6359 ◆ swlaw.com
Paul’s practice is concentrated in environmental and toxic tort litigation, including mold, asbestos and pollution claims.

Michael J. Pearce ◆ Maguire & Pearce Attorneys at Law
602-277-2195 ◆ mpwaterlaw.com
From 1995 through 2002, Pearce was chief counsel of the Arizona Department of Water Resources and now focuses on his practice on energy and natural resources.

Lee A. Storey ◆ Ballard Spahr LLP
602-798-5443 ◆ ballardspahr.com
Storey has been named to Chambers USA: America’s Leading Lawyers for Business, for environmental and water rights law, from 2008-2011.


ESTATE AND TRUST LITIGATION

Rex H. Decker ◆ Decker & Woods PC
480-821-1012 ◆ deckerandwoods.com
Practice area include estate planning, wills, trusts, probate, guardianship and conservatorship, and estate and trust litigation.

Roger T. Hargrove ◆ Fennemore Craig PC
602-916-5459 ◆ fclaw.com
Hargrove practices in the areas of general civil commercial litigation and appeals, with emphasis on probate and trust litigation.

K. Alexander Hobson ◆ Duffield Adamson & Helenbolt, PC
520-792-1181 ◆ duffieldlaw.com
Hobson’s practice areas include estate planning, probate and trust law, elder law, and probate litigation.

Gregory M. Kruzel ◆ Braun Siler Kruzel PC
480-951-8044 ◆ bskarizonalaw.com
Braun Siler Kruzel focuses exclusively on estate planning, trust administration, and settlement of both contested and non-contested estates.

Phoebe Moffatt ◆ Sacks Tierney P.A.
602-268-4700 ◆ sackstierney.com
Moffatt is a certified specialist in estate and trust law, as certified by the Arizona Board of Legal Specialization and the State Bar of Arizona.

Stephen C. Newmark ◆ The Newmark Law Firm, PLLC
602-274-7552 ◆ newmarklawfirm.com
Newmark enjoys helping estate planning clients small and large put their lives and finances in order.

George L. Paul ◆ Lewis and Roca LLP
602-262-5326 ◆ lrlaw.com
Paul handles cases on a wide variety of issues, including probate, estate and trust litigation.

Michelle J. Perkins ◆ Owens & Perkins, P.C.
480-994-8824 ◆ oplaw.com
Perkins practices in the areas of estate planning for individuals and families, trust litigation, and contested and uncontested probate matters.

Jay M. Polk ◆ Barron & Polk PLLC
602-252-8100 ◆ azprobatelawyers.com
Polk’s primary areas of practice are probate, trust, estate, elder and mental health law.

John C. Vryhof ◆ Snell & Wilmer L.L.P.
602-382-6333 ◆ swlaw.com
Vryhof’s practice is concentrated in estate planning, charitable planning, foundation and non-profit organizations, business succession planning, and international estate planning.

Arizona Business Magazine has used its best efforts in assembling material for this list, but does not warrant that the information contained herein is a complete or exhaustive list of the top lawyers in Arizona, and hereby disclaims any liability to any person for any loss or damage caused by errors or omissions herein.

Arizona Business Magazine March/April 2012

Commercial Real Estate Industry - AZRE Magazine September/October 2011

How Legal Issues Will Affect The Commercial Real Estate Industry Recovery, 2012

How Legal Issues Will Affect The Commercial Real Estate Industry Recovery, 2012

Arizona legislators packed the recent regular session with 357 new bills covering everything from food stamps to firearms.

But barely a handful will directly impact the state’s commercial real estate industry in 2012, and even those not significantly, says Greg Harris of Lewis and Roca LLP.

Still, that doesn’t mean the recent doings of Arizona’s state government, whether dictated by seemingly non-real estate focused laws or budget issues, won’t make a difference to the industry in the coming year, Harris and other local legal experts predict.

The few commercial real estate-related bills which did make it through the recent session were aimed at easing or clarifying municipal regulations and procedures that otherwise could hamper new development, Harris says.

SB1525, which was the latest of a series of laws aimed at limiting development impact fees, and SB1598, which attempts to provide some uniformity in permitting procedures among municipalities, are examples he cited.

Snell & Wilmer partner Ron Messerly adds a few more. SB1166 creates a tax exemption for certain commercial lease structures, and SB1474 has the effect of restructuring insurance requirements on multi-housing projects, Messerly says.

But any or all of those are unlikely to make much of an impact, the lawyers said.

Nor is anything monumental blowing in the wind for the next legislative session.

“There is nothing bright and shiny on the horizon that will have a significant impact on the commercial real estate industry,” Messerly says.

And that is good news, adds David Kreutzberg of Squire, Sanders & Dempsey.

“The legislature was so absorbed with budget problems, it took energy from other issues,” he says.

Kreutzberg, who specializes in hotel real estate, says he was especially pleased that certain  laws which were proposed didn’t pass during the previous session.

He noted a chunk of immigration-related bills that were rejected by the legislature or vetoed by the governor.

“SB1070 was a disaster for the hospitality industry,” Kreutzberg says. “I think the legislature got the message that they were doing injury to the state.”

On another positive note, the legislature’s continued efforts to reform the business property tax structure is a hopeful sign, and the abolishment of the Commerce Department and establishment of the new Arizona Commerce Authority is “promising,” he says.

NAIOP Arizona chairman Mike Haenel echoed Kreutzberg’s concern about revising the tax structure to make Arizona attractive to potential new or expanding businesses.

Haenel says job generators will fuel the future of Arizona’s commercial real estate industry, and HB2001 may have more of an impact on the industry in the coming years than any of the actual real estate-focused bills passed during the recent legislative session.

All those legal issues help establish Arizona’s attractiveness as a place for businesses that might be looking to expand or establish new offices in the state, he said.

A legislative negative, however, is state budget cuts for public schools, Kreutzberg says.

“We’re losing our competitive edge. It’s one of the things that is holding Arizona back,” he says. “The governor and the legislature need to face the fact that it’s a big issue.”

And not all legal issues impacting Arizona’s business growth, and therefore it’s commercial real estate industry, are spawned by the lawmakers.

Harris is concerned less about what the legislature did than what local advocacy groups did or may do to restrict development.

Examples include recent litigation and unfavorable rulings on Phoenix’s incentives for upscale mixed use complex City North, and Glendale’s proposals for saving the Phoenix Coyotes, the centerpiece of the city’s vast commerce cluster.

“Even if you have a project that most think is a good idea, advocacy groups challenging (incentives) may have a chilling effect on investors moving forward,” Harris says.

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For more information about the real estate industry and the firms mentioned in this story, visit the following links:

www.lrlaw.com
www.swlaw.com
www.ssd.com

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AZRE Magazine September/October 2011