News & Events

October 3rd, 2017 — In News & Events

Owners’ Counsel of America Announces Leslie Fields as New Executive Director

Jacksonville, Florida, October 2, 2013 ( – Owners’ Counsel of America (OCA), a Leslie Fields as new Executive Directornationwide network of leading eminent domain attorneys, is pleased to announce the hiring of Leslie Fields as 
its new Executive Director, a person who brings a wealth of experience and knowledge to the task of helping to lead and grow the organization.
Leslie Fields retired in 2014 from Faegre Baker Daniels, a law firm with national and international offices, where she served on the firm’s management board and became a renowned legal expert on eminent domain and property rights issues, co-chairing for many years the longest running ALI-CLE conference on eminent domain and land valuation and presenting on the subject of eminent domain in locales as distant as Tsinghua University in Beijing China as part of the Brigham- Kanner Property Rights Conference sponsored by William & Mary Law School.
Over her 33 year legal career, Fields, a member of the American College of Trial Lawyers, argued numerous precedent setting cases that helped shape the law of eminent domain in Colorado and was involved in land acquisition matters for multiple major public works projects, including representation of the principle landowners for the construction of the Denver International Airport. In 2008 Fields wrote the textbook on Colorado Eminent Domain Law. In 2014 the Sam Cary Bar Association awarded Fields the King Trimble Lifetime Achievement Award for her professional achievements and in 2016 Fields was honored as a Law Star by Denver University Sturm College of Law for her alumni and professional achievements.
“I am thrilled to be given the opportunity to work with some of the
best eminent domain lawyers in the country and look forward to
serving our members and helping to grow this organization and recommit ourselves to supporting private property owners throughout the nation.”
“Never did I imagine that Owners Council of America would be able to secure an executive director with the capabilities, energy, and vision such as Leslie Fields. Not only is Leslie a person of whom we already hold in such high esteem for her person and her accomplishments, she is one of us! With Leslie becoming the Executive Director of Owners Counsel of America we have much to look forward with respect to defending together the virtue and value of private property rights across our country.”
ANDREW PRINCE BRIGHAM,Owners Counsel of America, Member (Florida) Brigham Property Rights Law Firm, PLLC
“The announcement that Owners Council of America has named Leslie Fields as Executive Director is exciting news. Leslie has had a highly successful and distinguished career as one of Colorado’s preeminent attorneys and one of our nation’s most distinguished attorneys in the field of takings law. How fortunate for OCA and the many property owners in the years ahead that will benefit from Leslie’s service.”
JOSEPH T. WALDO, Owners Counsel of America, Member (Virginia) Waldo & Lisle, P.C.

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September 1st, 2017 — In Articles

14th Annual Brigham-Kanner Property Rights Conference, October 12-13, 2017

Prof. Callies Accepting Eagle

Prof. David Callies will receive the 14th Annual Brigham-Kanner Prize on October 12 in Williamsburg, VA.

Several members of Owners’ Counsel of America will be speaking at the 14th Annual Brigham-Kanner Property Rights Conference at the William and Mary Law School in Williamsburg, Virginia on October 12-13, 2017. The Conference is honoring University of Hawaii Law School Professor David Callies (the 2015 Recipient of OCA’s Crystal Eagle award), for his lifetime of work, both scholarly and practical, advancing the right of private property. Please join us for this exciting event.

The Brigham-Kanner Property Rights Conference and Prize are presented by the William & Mary Property Rights Project. Both the Conference and Prize are named in honor of the lifetime contributions made to property rights law by Florida eminent domain attorney, Toby Prince Brigham (now retired) and California appellate and condemnation attorney Gideon Kanner (also retired).

This year’s Conference will kick-off with a discussion featuring the property rights scholarship of Professor Callies in a panel titled “The Future of Land Use Regulation: A Tribute to Callies.” Panels and participants will also tackle issues relating to the civil forfeiture of property, property rights in water and the most recent Supreme Court regulatory takings decision in Murr v. Wisconsin.

This annual Conference is notable for its unique approach which includes bringing together the members of the bench, the bar and academia on Conference panels, among the participants as well as within the prize recipients (retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor was awarded the Prize in 2011 in Beijing, China and Michael Berger, a practicing appellate attorney, property rights advocate and Member of OCA received the Prize in 2014.). A complete list of previous Brigham-Kanner Prize Recipients details the other takings scholars and property rights attorneys who have been awarded the Prize.

We hope that you will join us at William & Mary Law School this October. Online registration is available here.

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November 29th, 2016 — In News & Events

Join Owners’ Counsel at the Eminent Domain & Land Valuation 2017 CLE in San Diego

Join Owners’ Counsel of America attorneys at the 34th annual American Law Institute Eminent Domain and Land Valuation Litigation course in San Diego, California. This live CLE program will take place Thursday – Saturday, January 26-28, 2017 at the Westin San Diego, in downtown San Diego, California.  

Register to attend in-person and SAVE $200!  American Law Institute CLE is offering all of OCA’s referrals a unique savings on course registrations.  Simply enter coupon code CY009OCA to SAVE $200 off the regular in-person registration fee. *

Exploring a full range of cutting-edge issues and drawing professionals from across the country, this annual conference is “the place to be” for all eminent domain and land use practitioners. Customize the unique curriculum to work for you!

Are you an experienced eminent domain lawyer? Choose from dual tracks addressing key issues in substantive takings law, or choose from an array of sessions chock full of practice pointers.

New to the practice or need a refresher?  Attend Condemnation 101’s “bootcamp” sessions on Thursday.  Then join with other attendees for Friday and Saturday’s sessions – including a national eminent domain law forum and regulatory takings update. Either way, you’ll learn from recognized and experienced professionals representing the diverse stakeholders in these cases.

Topics for the 2017 course include:

  • Teamwork: How a jury consultant collaborates with the attorneys to present a compelling case
  • Emerging issues in relocation litigation and under the Uniform Relocation Act
  • Dynamic trial presentations: How predicate experts make the case
  • Effective landowner testimony: Using the client in the valuation case
  • Permitting and approvals for linear energy transmission and pipeline projects
  • Present and future highway projects: Obtaining information under public records laws and the role of federal funding
  • Where we are 25 years after the Supreme Court established the “total takings” test in Lucas v. South Carolina Coastal Council

Conference Planning Chairs include:
Robert H. Thomas, Damon Key Leong Kupchak Hastert, L.C., Honolulu, Hawaii
Joseph Waldo, Waldo & Lyle, P.C., Norfolk, Virginia

Condemnation 101 Track Planning Chairs:
Andrew P. Brigham, Brigham Property Rights Law Firm PLLC, Jacksonville, Florida
Jack Sperber, Faegre Baker Daniels LLP, Denver

Hurry!  This discount expires 12/01/2016.

*Valid on new registrations only.  Discounts may not be combined, including group registrations.  Expires 12/1/16.

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October 28th, 2016 — In News & Events

Owners’ Counsel Participates in International Property Rights Conference

During a ceremony at The Peace Palace in The Hague on October 21, the 2016 the 2016 Brigham-Kanner Property Rights Prize was awarded to Peruvian economist Hernando de Soto, President of the Institute of Liberty and Democracy. An advocate for the formal recognition of private property ownership as a solution to global poverty, de Soto has been recognized internationally for his work. The Prize was awarded following the conclusion of the 13th Annual Brigham-Kanner International Property Rights Conference in which a number of OCA attorneys participated.

Peruvian economist Hernando de Soto

International Property Rights Conference at the World Court and Seat of International Law

The 13th Annual Brigham-Kanner Property Rights Conference took place October 19-21, 2016 in The Hague, The Netherlands. The Conference is sponsored by the William & Mary Law School Property Rights Project and was presented in cooperation with the Grotius Centre for International Legal Studies of Leiden Law School. This is the second time the Conference was hosted outside of the United States. In 2011, the Conference took place in Beijing, China. (Read more about the 2011 Conference here.)

Annually, William & Mary’s Property Rights Project recognizes the outstanding contributions of a single individual to the field of property rights scholarship by awarding the Brigham-Kanner Property Rights Prize during the Conference. Both the Conference and Prize are named in recognition of retired eminent domain and property rights attorneys Toby Prince Brigham and Gideon Kanner for their lifetime contributions to preserving the important role that property ownership plays in protecting individual liberties and civil rights.


Scholarly Discussions on Intellectual Property Rights

During the international three-day symposium, nine Owners’ Counsel lawyers spoke on a number of panels and a variety of topics, including rising seas and property rights, international property rights jurisprudence, protection of cultural and heritage property and intellectual and non-tangible property rights.

Property rights attorney and OCA Hawaii Member, Robert Thomas, and fellow panelists examines the relationship of property to individual liberty and to the political structure of nations. Thomas also participate in a second panel that explored international perspectives relating to property rights and intellectual property and non-material resources.

“Intellectual property and intangible assets are the new frontier of property rights,” explained Thomas. “Property law has traditionally recognized rights in the fruits of one’s physical labor, and we’re seeing seeing this extended to the fruits of creative efforts. The legal recognition of this type of property ownership and the protection of those rights on the international stage is a growing concern in today’s global marketplace.”


An International Debate on Sea Level Rise, Equality and Private Property Rights

Minneapolis-based OCA attorney, Mark Savin, joined a panel that debated issues pertaining to climate change, sea level rise, storm protection and private property rights. “With catastrophic weather events impacting coastal communities in recent years, the discussion of who should bear the cost of public safety measures such as dune restoration, levees and seawall repair is of fundamental importance,” said Savin.

OCA members and eminent domain attorneys, Andrew Brigham of Florida, and Joseph Suntum of Maryland, joined a panel that was tasked with exploring the relation between private property rights, equality and freedom. At the center of their discussion was the question of whether the protection of private property rights becomes a barrier for equality and freedom or whether property rights encourages economic, political and social stability and liberty.

International Property Rights Jurisprudence, Eminent Domain for Private Gain and the Promotion of Global Peace

Mike Rikon, OCA New York representative, and Jill Gelineau, OCA Oregon representative spoke on a panel focused on international property rights jurisprudence. The panelists discussed how the property rights opinions of international courts have strengthened democracy and reduced global conflicts. Panelists also reviewed the role of the International Court of Justice in settling national boundary disputes, the reparations and criminal forfeiture provisions of the International Criminal Court, and the property rights opinions of the European Court of Human Rights.

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Missouri OCA member and eminent domain lawyer, Robert Denlow, spoke on a panel tasked with addressing the challenges society faces in recognizing and protecting cultural and historical property during times of peace and unrest. Pacific Legal Foundation attorney and OCA Honorary member James Burling addressed the proper uses of eminent domain and the controversy over the use of eminent domain power for private-sector economic development and other purposes. Joseph Waldo, Virginia condemnation attorney and OCA Honorary member, spoke on a panel discussion centered on the role of property rights in alleviating poverty, combating unrest and promoting the development of market-based economies.


In the years since the Conference awarded the first Brigham-Kanner Property Rights Prize in 2004, it has become an important national event attended by scholars and practitioners interested in property law and theory. The Conference has honored some of the nation’s foremost property law thinkers including Frank I. Michelman, Richard A. Epstein, James W. Ely, Robert C. Ellickson, Richard E. Pipes and Retired Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court Sandra Day O’Connor. This year’s recipient, Hernando de Soto, is the first international honoree to review the Brigham-Kanner Prize.

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August 31st, 2016 — In News & Events

Hawaii Supreme Court Accepts Certiorari in Eminent Domain Case; Owners’ Counsel and NFIB Filed Amici Brief

On August 22, the Supreme Court of Hawaii accepted the Application for Writ of Certiorari filed July 10, 2016 by the landowner in County of Kauai v. Hanalei River Holdings, Ltd., No. SCWC-14-0000828.  The Owners’ Counsel of America (OCA) joined with the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) Small Business Legal Center to file an amici curiae brief in the case urging the Court to review and overturn the appellate court’s decision.  

Background of the Case

This eminent domain case involves three privately owned parcels on Kauai which the County seized for the expansion of a beachfront public park. The court of appeals concluded that Hawaii law requires two parcels to touch in order for a jury to consider them part of a larger parcel. Here, the Petitioner’s property was separated from the other parcel he claimed to use and the two were not physically connected. Petitioner argued that he used the two lots together as a boat yard and that the taking of one parcel damaged his use of the other.

The Landowner’s Application for Review

The Landowner applied to the Supreme Court of Hawaii seeking the court’s review on three questions.  (See the Landowner’s Application for Writ of Certiorari here.)

  1. Must two parcels physically abut in order for the jury to consider whether they are part of a larger parcel?
  2. Where there are multiple properties being condemned from different owners, does statutory interest on a conditional deposit only accrue after each condemnee establishes an entitlement to its portion of the deposit?
  3. Does Haw.Rev.Stat. § 101-19 enable a condemnor to withdraw a portion of its estimate of just compensation after deposit with the Court and after taking possession of the property?

The Court has agreed to review all of the questions presented.

OCA & NFIB Amici Brief: The Appellate Court Got it Wrong

The OCA & NFIB brief addresses the first question presented: whether two parcels must physically touch in order for a jury to consider them part of a larger parcel. The brief contends that the court of appeals erred in its analysis of County of Kauai v. Hanalei River Holdings, Ltd., No. CAAP-14-0000828. Amici urge the Hawaii Supreme Court to agree to review the erroneous decision of the court of appeals and overturn it as faulty and contrary to Hawaii law. The OCA-NFIB brief argues that parcels do not need to touch to establish a unified use for property to be considered part of a larger parcel.

“Two parcels do not need to touch in order for an eminent domain jury to consider whether they are components of a larger parent tract,” said Robert H. Thomas, Esq., a Director with Damon Key Leong Kupchak Hastert in Honolulu.  Thomas, OCA Hawaii Member, authored the brief on behalf of OCA and NFIB.

“The court of appeals was simply wrong in it’s decision that parcels ‘must touch,'” Thomas explained.  “The published opinion is precedential and will have grave consequences for Hawaii property owners in future eminent domain and property rights matters.”

Just Compensation is not One-Size-Fits-All

The determination of just compensation and damages in an eminent domain case is not one-size-fits-all rule, but rather requires the application of legal rules that accommodate the facts specific to each case.  The court of appeals decision in the Hanalei case establishes a hardline rule that would force courts to ignore the unique facts of a case.

“We are in the midst of the Honolulu rail, the largest transportation project in Hawaii’s history, and the condemnation of private property will be necessary,” explained Thomas. “The Hawaii Supreme Court must ensure that the law correctly guides lower courts and protects the rights of property owners who are entitled to just compensation—‘the full and perfect equivalent’ of the property taken.”

We will continue to follow this case as the Court will hear oral argument.

Contact a Condemnation Attorney with Owners’ Counsel of America

Owners’ Counsel of America (OCA) is a nationwide network of leading condemnation attorneys dedicated to representing private owners in eminent domain and property rights matters. If a government agency is attempting to take your private property, an OCA attorney in your state can help you protect your legal rights. For more information, please contact us online or call (877) 367-6963.

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August 1st, 2016 — In News & Events

Owners’ Counsel Attorneys Chair New National Eminent Domain Seminar

The practice of eminent domain is becoming more and more dependent upon occurrences on the national level.  Now more than ever, eminent domain lawyers must be knowledgeable about activity outside their own jurisdictions. Join OCA attorneys from around the country in Las Vegas this September 29 and 30 for a two-day program presented by CLE International focused on helping attorneys to stay informed about the most important developments in eminent domain litigation all across the country.

Panel discussions will include:

  • Key Eminent Domain Issues in Highway Projects
  • Organized Resistance to the Big Transmission Line Projects
  • Valuation Issues in Pipeline Takings
  • Partial Takings
  • Just Compensation
  • Exactions
  • Attorney Fees
  • Municipal Takings of Private Water Companies
  • Special Purpose Properties
  • Practical advice on litigation strategy and trial tactics from both lawyers and judges

Program Co-Chairs are Darius Dynkowski of Ackerman, Ackerman & Dynkowski, Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, Kermitt Waters and Autumn Waters of The Law Offices of Kermitt Waters, Las Vegas, Nevada.  For a complete schedule and registration information, click here.


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June 29th, 2016 — In Articles

OCA Files Amicus Brief In Support of Property Owners in NC “Public Trust Doctrine” Case

Along our country’s shores, a historical legal principle known as the “public trust doctrine” allows members of the public to access the beach beyond either the mean high or low water mark, even where this section of the beach (as well as the land above the water mark) is private property.

This is the law in most states; and, until recently, it was clear that the public trust doctrine did not – and was not intended to –provide local governments the authority to interfere with landowners’ rights in the “dry sand” areas of their private property.

However, a case currently pending in the North Carolina Supreme Court is threatening to change that. In Nies v. Town of Emerald Isle (No. 409PA15), two lower courts have held that private “dry sand” property is also subject to the public trust. This is an unprecedented application of the public trust doctrine, and one that Owners’ Counsel of America (OCA) and property rights advocates around the country are fighting vigorously to have overturned.

The Case of Nies v. Town of Emerald Isle

The case arose after the Town of Emerald Isle, a small town on a barrier island on North Carolina’s Atlantic shore, passed an ordinance in 2010 that created a 20-foot wide “unimpeded Town vehicle lane” on all dry sand areas seaward of the first line of dunes. The “unimpeded” nature of the vehicle lane meant that even the property owners who owned the beachfront land on which the new lane existed could not occupy this portion of their private property.

Then, in 2013 the Town passed another ordinance that allowed members of the public to drive on all privately-owned “dry sand” areas. This effectively turned the Nies’s (and other owners’) private beachfront property into parking lots for the public.

The Nies family sued, alleging that the 2010 and 2013 ordinances amounted to takings without the payment of just compensation (the family had owned their land prior to 2010). The Town fought back, and cited the public trust doctrine as authority for making public use of the family’s land.

Despite the fact that the public trust doctrine had never previously been used in such a fashion – and in fact had only ever been used below the mean high water mark and in North Carolina’s state-owned beach areas – the trial court and the North Carolina Court of Appeals both sided with the Town of Emerald Isle.

OCA’s Amici Brief

On May 23, 2016, Owners’ Counsel of America and professor David L. Callies filed an amici brief urging the North Carolina Supreme Court to reverse the lower courts’ decision. The brief asks the Supreme Court to reconfirm that the public trust doctrine does not extend beyond the mean high water mark, and that any public use of private “dry sand” beach areas thus remains subject to the law of eminent domain. Such an interpretation of the public trust doctrine would be consistent with the doctrine’s application in other states around the country.

You can read OCA’s brief below.

Owners’ Counsel of America | Leading Eminent Domain Attorneys Nationwide

If you would like more information about Nies v. Town of Emerald Isle, or if the government is attempting to take your private property without payment of just compensation, contact Owners’ Counsel of Americaby phone (877) 367-6963 or  online. To locate an OCA attorney in your state visit our website here.


[Proposed] Brief of Amici Curiae Owners’ Counsel of America and Professor David L. Callies, Nies v. Town of… by robert_thomas_5

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June 13th, 2016 — In News & Events

Eminent Domain Attorneys with Owners’ Counsel of America Earn CRE® Designation

The Owners’ Counsel of America wishes to congratulate eminent domain attorneys Joseph P. Suntum of Maryland and William G. Blake of Nebraska who were recently awarded the CRE® designation from the Counselors of Real Estate®. A Counselor of Real Estate (CRE) provides intelligent, unbiased real estate advice that achieves the best results for a client or employer. Joe and Bill join the more than 1,100 CREs worldwide, including 5 other OCA attorney-members (Casey Pipes – Alabama, Jack Sperber – Colorado, Dwight Merriam – Connecticut, Anthony DellaPelle – New Jersey, and Michael Rikon – New York). 

Founded in 1953, the Counselors of Real Estate® is the membership organization established exclusively for real estate advisors who provide intelligent, unbiased, and trusted advice for a client or employer. Membership in The Counselors of Real Estate is available on an invitation-only basis after a thorough review process has been conducted.  CREs come from a wide array of professional backgrounds – from valuation, consulting, law, brokerage and asset management to development, investment, lending and corporate real estate. They are service providers, owners, capital providers, fiduciaries, academics and public servants.  As the most respected real estate specialists in the industry, CREs work on the most complex and important projects, effectively run real estate businesses, and are known for innovation and creative problem solving.

A former Assistant Public Defender for Montgomery County, Joseph Suntum has achieved significant success over the last 20 years representing property owners throughout Maryland and the District of Columbia in eminent domain and land valuation litigation. Decades of trial experience coupled with an intimate knowledge of the law of eminent domain and the science of real property valuation, have equipped him to vigorously defend his clients’ private property rights and secure just compensation in condemnation proceedings.

Over more than 35 years of practice, William Blake has amassed a wealth of experience in eminent domain, real estate and commercial disputes litigating cases across Nebraska.  He is frequently invited to speak, locally and nationally, on issues relating to the condemnation of real property and private property rights and is recognized for his many written works regarding the law of eminent domain.  Mr. Blake is the Editor of “The Law of Eminent Domain”, First Chair Press, (2012) published for the American Bar Association and is the author of “Just Condemnation in Nebraska: a Manual for Owners.”

OCA congratulates both Joe Suntum and Bill Blake on their numerous professional achievements and on their recent CRE® designation.

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May 3rd, 2016 — In News & Events

California Supreme Court Hears Oral Argument Today in Important Eminent Domain Case

Beginning at 9:00 AM (Pacfic) today, the California Supreme Court will live-stream oral arguments in an important eminent domain and property rights case, Property Reserve, Inc. v. Superior Court, case number S217738.  This is the case in which the Third District Court of Appeal held that a request made by the California Department of Water Resources (DWR) to enter private property to undertake geological and environmental activities such as boring holes and installing permanent structures were not the “innocuous” or “superficial” activities permitted under California’s “entry statute.”  (See our previous post here.)

The Court of Appeal found that the level of intrusion on private property requested by DWR would be a taking, and that in order to undertake those activities, the DWR must follow eminent domain procedures.  OCA together with the the National Federation of IndependentBusiness (NFIB) Small Business Legal Center filed an amici curiae brief in support of Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta property and business owners who objected to the DWR’s proposed testing and pre-condemnation activities. (The OCA-NFIB brief is linked below.) 

OCA agrees with the conclusion made by the appellate court – that the government’s eminent domain power must be used “in strict conformity to the constitutional protections and procedures that limit its operation.”  The amici brief filed by NFIB and OCA argues two points:

  1. That any significant physical invasion of private property is a taking requiring the payment of just compensation and compliance with eminent domain procedures; and
  2. That adherence to established eminent domain procedures would not interfere with the State’s ability to function or to complete this and other projects.  At worst complying with eminent domain procedures might be inconvenient for the government, but would not make this or other projects impossible.

More about the case via OCA Hawaii Member Robert Thomas’s blog here and here.  Robert Thomas co-authored the OCA-NFIB amici brief in this case.

OCA will be watching the outcome of this case as the Court’s decision here may have nationwide impacts.

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April 29th, 2016 — In News & Events

OCA Members Anthony DellaPelle & Edward McKirdy Honored Among Top 100 New Jersey Super Lawyers for 2016

Owners’ Counsel of America wishes to congratulate OCA Members Anthony F. DellaPelle and Edward D. McKirdy, partners with McKirdy & Riskin, PA, on the honor of being included in the Top 100 2016 New Jersey Super Lawyers, a distinction both have earned annually since 2009.  Anthony DellaPelle is the New Jersey member of Owners’ Counsel of America (OCA) and serves on OCA’s Board of Directors.  Edward McKirdy is an Emeritus Member of OCA, having represented the State of New Jersey for over a decade in OCA’s nationwide eminent domain lawyer network. 

Both DellaPelle and McKirdy have dedicated their practice to representing property owners in eminent domain and related real estate valuation litigation. Since 1967, McKirdy & Riskin, has focused on helping New Jersey property owners—large corporations, family-owned businesses and individuals—in eminent domain, redevelopment, property tax and other real estate valuation matters.

Super Lawyers Top 100 list highlights the 100 attorneys in a state who obtained the highest point totals in a given year throughout the Super Lawyers nomination process. Super Lawyers rates attorneys from more than 70 practice areas, including eminent domain lawyers, who have attained a high degree of peer recognition and professional achievement.  More about the Super Lawyers selection process is available here.

Read more in our news release here.

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