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Downey Brand LLP

At a Glance


“Amazing collegial atmosphere”

“Qualify of life”

“Interesting work”


“Would like to see more formal participatory training programs”

“Marketing hours do not count for billables”

“Compensation could be higher”

About Downey Brand LLP

Founded in 1926, when Sacramento was still a young, burgeoning metropolis, the three-lawyer firm of Downey, Brand & Seymour constituted about three percent of the city’s 100 or so attorneys. The firm’s growth was slow early on, with only 5 attorneys in 1946. But it continued to grow over the decades, expanding to new offices and locations. Now with nearly 100 attorneys of its own, Downey Brand is Sacramento’s largest law firm.

Notable in NorCal

Downey Brand handles most every type of civil matter, though its practice reflects its location in the state’s capital and in the middle of the state’s agricultural heartland. The firm’s particular strengths include business, litigation, and natural resources, and its attorneys specialize in a wide variety of sub specialties within these areas—more than 40 at last count. With additional offices in San Francisco; Stockton; and Reno, Nevada, the firm is well established in northern California and Nevada.

In 2018, 14 Downey Brand attorneys were named Northern California Super Lawyers, and seven were named Northern California Rising Stars. In addition, Sacramento Magazine recognized 54 attorneys from the firm as Top Lawyers. And firm chairman Bill Warne was among 100 attorneys on The Business Journal’s Influencers list in the “Law” category.

Litigating over Land—and Water

Downey Brand boasts a strong general commercial litigation practice. Many of the region's leading companies trust their most significant litigation to the firm—with good reason. Downey Brand’s attorneys have a proven record of successfully handling a wide variety of complex, high-stakes commercial and business cases, counseling both plaintiffs and defendants in business, employment, eminent domain, environmental, family law, food and agricultural, intellectual property, products liability, land use, trust & estates, and water rights litigation. The firm also boasts an appellate & writ practice and even has a certified appellate specialist: Jay-Allen Eisen. Eisen has advised on more than 300 appeals and writs in his almost-50-year career.

Among Downey Brand’s noteworthy matters was the Moonlight Fire state litigation, in which the firm represented Sierra Pacific Industries in one of the biggest wildland fire cost recovery actions ever in the U.S. After years of litigation at the state level, the case was resolved in favor of Sierra Pacific Industries in 2017, and the court imposed terminating sanctions against plaintiff Cal Fire for discovery abuses.

NorCal’s Corporate Counsel

With its headquarters in the state capital, Downey Brand serves as outside general counsel for many of Northern California’s leading companies, including privately held and family-owned companies, non-profits, and publicly traded companies. For other national and regional companies, Downey Brand’s corporate and business lawyers are called upon to act as special counsel to handle complex business and real estate transactions. Some of the firm’s recent experience includes advising a selling group on an $85 million cash-and-stock merger transaction; guiding a family-owned winery through reorganization; and achieving a dismissal for a financial institution in a multi-million-dollar breach of contract suit.


July 2018

Downey Brand represented DIII Properties in their claim that energy giant EDF Renewable Energy, Inc. violated an easement agreement allowing the installation of electrical collection lines on DIII’s property for the purpose of transferring wind-generated power to market. After six years of litigation, the Superior Court of Solano County determined that collection lines were installed substantially outside the agreed-upon easement area, and that EDF knew there would be a discrepancy before the agreement was signed. The Court ruled that EDF committed fraud and trespass against DIII and ordered EDF to compensate DIII $1,850,477.62 for the encroachment and attorneys’ fees.

July 2018

Downey Brand pro bono client C.M. was active in his church in Honduras, ministering to gang-affiliated youth and gang-recruitment targets. In 2012, after several death threats from MS-13, C.M. was attacked and nearly killed. C.M. fled to the U.S. and applied for asylum. Downey Brand partnered with Centro Legal De La Raza, which provided support and volunteer translators. Only a small percentage of asylum cases are granted, and this complicated case covered the category of asylum known as “particular social group.” However, in January 2018, a San Francisco immigration judge granted asylum to C.M.

June 2018

Fifty-four Downey Brand attorneys were awarded 2018 Top Lawyers distinction by Sacramento Magazine. Firm attorneys who made this year’s list were recognized for their excellence in one or more of 29 practice areas, a testament to the firm’s influence and scope. Attorneys throughout the region participated in the voting, recommending colleagues in over 50 legal disciplines. Attorneys who received the highest number of votes in each discipline received a Top Lawyer designation and were featured in the August issue of Sacramento Magazine.

December 2017

In December 2017, Downey Brand announced that Sophia B. Castillo, Arielle O. Harris, Tyson E. Hubbard, Thomas Marrs, Meredith E. Nikkel, and James Robertson had been elected to the firm partnership. Sophia specializes in California environmental and toxics litigation and compliance. Arielle assists public agencies and private clients with environmental review, land use entitlements, and permitting. Tyson’s focus is on trust and estate disputes. Tom draws on his business litigation background to resolve complex family law matters. Meredith’s expertise is in water rights disputes at the state and federal levels. James counsels his clients through complex business matters

Why Work Here


Downey Brand built its reputation by consistently providing clients with unparalleled legal solutions and unmatched customer service. Attorneys typically focus on one or more areas of law that most interest them and are best suited to their skills and knowledge. This affords our clients specialized advice that is tailored to their business and industry. Within the firm, various practices are grouped together to form our Business, Litigation, and Natural Resources Departments. Downey Brand attorneys have the flexibility to explore different practice areas and work with a variety of colleagues to best represent clients. Our firm is able to offer attorneys interesting cases and rewarding work no matter what their area of expertise.

Downey Brand LLP

621 Capitol Mall
18th floor
Sacramento, CA 95814
Phone: (916) 444-1000


Chairman and Managing Partner: Scott Shapiro
Recruiting Chair: Meghan Baker

Base Salary

1st year: $120,000
Summer associate: $2,100/week
San Francisco
1st year: $145,000
Summer associate $2,750/week

Summer Program

Summer Associate Offers:
3 out of 3 (2Ls) (2018)

Major Office Locations

Sacramento, CA (HQ)
Reno, NV
San Francisco, CA
Stockton, CA

Major Departments & Practices

Appellate & Writ Practice
Banking & Financial Institutions
Bankruptcy & Insolvency
Class Action Defense
Climate Change & Sustainability
Corporate Finance
Corporate Law
Disability Access
Emerging Companies & Venture Capital
Eminent Domain & Inverse Condemnation
Employment Counseling
Endangered Species
Environmental Enforcement Defense
Environmental Remediation & Due Diligence
Family Law
Financial Institutions
Flood Protection Law
Food & Agriculture
Food Safety
Higher Education
Intellectual Property & Licensing
Land Use
Mergers & Acquisitions
Nonprofit/Tax-Exempt Organizations
Privacy & Data Integrity
Products Liability
Real Estate
Regulatory Law & Business Permitting
Water Rights & Resources
Water Quality Law
Wealth Transfer