Highsmith & Whatley Join Michael Colantuono as New Shareholders in Respected Municipal Law Firm

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New Firm Name: Colantuono, Highsmith & Whatley, PC

Los Angeles, California – April 14, Colantuono & Levin, PC, which serves as City Attorney of the Cities of Auburn, Barstow, Calabasas, Grass Valley, Lakeport, and Sierra Madre and as special counsel to many other local governments around California has admitted new shareholders and changed its name. Effective April 1, 2014, the firm is known as Colantuono, Highsmith & Whatley, PC. Its web and email addresses have changed, too, to www.chwlaw.us.The change reflects elevation to shareholder status of Teresa (“Terri”) Highsmith and Holly Whatley, and the departure of Sandi Levin due to her appointment at Executive Director of the Los Angeles County Law Library—the second largest public law library in the United States.

“I’m pleased to have both Terri and Holly as my fellow shareholders. This reflects their significant contributions to the practice of municipal law and our firm,” said managing shareholder Michael G. Colantuono. “We are very pleased for Sandi Levin on her transition from law practice to a new role as Executive Director of the Los Angeles County Library. While we will miss her contributions to our firm, everyone in the legal community will benefit from Sandi’s contributions in her new capacity.”

Terri Highsmith has been a local government lawyer for more than two decades, representing cities in both Northern and Southern California. Terri started her career as a litigator, successfully defending the Cities of Lafayette, Orinda, Livermore, Livingston and Fremont in land use, elections and redevelopment matters, including preparation and defense of a ground-breaking local firearm sales ordinance for Lafayette which became a model for similar ordinances around California, garnering her recognition from the Legal Community United Against Violence. Terri currently serves as City Attorney of Barstow and Sierra Madre and served as City Attorney to Alameda from 2006 to 2011 before joining the firm. In addition, Terri is an expert in post-redevelopment matters and represents several Successor Agencies and Oversight Boards. She also leads the firm’s labor and employment practice.

Holly O. Whatley heads the litigation team in the firm’s LA office.Holly’s practice focuses on public law disputes, including post-redevelopment and other municipal finance issues, matters involving Local Agency Formation Commissions (LAFCOs), land use, CEQA, election, public works, employment law, and ground water disputes. She has represented cities in complex municipal finance litigation, including writ actions involving multi-million-dollar claims and class action tax refund suits. Holly was named one of the top 25 Municipal Lawyers of 2013 by the Daily Journal for her defense of telephone taxes. In addition, Holly serves as counsel to cities and local agencies, having served as City Attorney to the City of La Habra Heights. She currently serves as Planning Commission Counsel in Sierra Madre.

Colantuono, Highsmith & Whatley, PC, represents local governmental entities, including over 200 cities, counties, special districts, joint powers authorities and other local agencies in California. It has handled six local government revenue cases in the California Supreme Court since 2004 and has been on a steady growth path and will soon hire its sixteenth attorney. The firm practices from offices in Los Angeles and Nevada County. Its shareholders have been among the Top 25 Municipal Lawyers in each of the three years the Daily Journal has published such a list. Michael G. Colantuono is a past president of the City Attorneys Department of the League of California Cities and a current Trustee of the State Bar of California, having been appointed by the Speaker of the California Assembly to a three-year term.


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