Law Practice

Merged Firm to Corner Water Market?

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A prominent Denver firm is merging with a California firm known for its work on water rights matters, creating a combination that will focus on such work throughout the western United States.

Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck will tie the knot with Hatch & Parent on Jan. 1. It will still be based in Denver and retain the Brownstein name, and will have about 200 lawyers in 12 offices in the western U.S. and Washington, D.C., reports the Associated Press.

However, the merger brings to Brownstein 30 new lawyers, 19 of whom practice water law, as well as five new California offices, reports the Denver Business Journal.

It will create, says CEO and managing partner Bruce James, “the biggest water-law practice throughout the West,” reports the Business Journal.

Water is an increasingly important issue because of climate change and a growing population, and the merger “will allow the combined firm to handle cases across the West at all stages, from arguing for water rights in court to securing permits from regulators,” says Jim Lochhead, a lawyer with Brownstein who practices in the area. Also, as providers work harder and try new methods to get water, this will create additional legal work, he tells AP.

Although the combined firm could be conflicted out of cases that pit California and Colorado interests against each other, Lochhead says the trend is to resolve complicated water disputes by negotiation rather than litigation.

Brownstein merged in January with Schreck Brigone, a 26-attorney Las Vegas-based gambling practice powerhouse, reports the Business Journal. Known historically for its lobbying, real estate and natural resources practice, the Brownstein firm has almost doubled its attorney roster since 2003.

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