The Daily Journal Corporation, publisher of California’s leading legal trade paper, named Michael G. Colantuono and Jennifer L. Pancake as California Lawyers of Year in Inverse Condemnation Law — the body of law governing claims against government for property damage.  The so-called CLAY awards are among the California legal profession’s most sought-after award. This year, The Daily Journal recognized just 12 legal teams for contributions in areas of law ranging from Capital Markets to Real Estate.

Colantuono serves as City Attorney for Grass Valley, California. He, Pancake and their co-counsel were recognized for their victory in City of Oroville v. Superior Court, a 2019 decision of the California Supreme Court allowing new defenses to governments in suits claiming property damage. It is the first victory for government in decades in this area of law in the California Supreme Court and is already being cited in major disputes including the Montecito mudslide disaster and recent wildfires around California.

Colantuono said: “We won an important victory for all California governments in the Oroville case and I am deeply honored to be recognized along with my co-counsel in the case.”

Colantuono, Pancake and their firm, Colantuono, Highsmith & Whatley, PC, serve Auburn, Barstow, Calabasas, Chico, Grass Valley, Lakeport, Ojai, Sierra Madre, South Pasadena and Yountville as City or Town Attorney and many other counties, cities and special districts as special counsel.  Colantuono is a past President of the California State Bar and of the City Attorneys Department of the League of California Cities. The State Bar named him the Ronald M. George Public Lawyer of the Year in 2010. More information about the CLAY awards may be found at