Somach Simmons & Dunn (“SSD”) and its team of professionals have had the honor of serving an amazing client base on water, natural resources, and environmental law and policy across the western United States for 30 years.
From its landmark work in the Klamath Basin to representation of the State of Texas in interstate compact litigation before the U.S. Supreme Court, to enhancing economic vitality in California and throughout the western United States, the firm has remained at the forefront in its practice areas.
To celebrate this milestone, we’re planning special ways to give back to the community throughout 2022, honoring the firm’s roots while also showcasing future generations.
From the start, SSD had a shared vision to create a firm devoted to doing great work for great clients. The firm’s 30-year milestone would not be possible without the trust and loyalty of the firm’s clients, especially those who have been with the firm from the beginning like Tulelake Irrigation District, Glenn-Colusa Irrigation District, Sacramento County, City of Lodi, City of Lompoc, Plumas-Sierra Rural Electric Cooperative, and Klamath Water Users Association.
Stuart Somach and Paul Simmons are also quick to talk about the people who have been instrumental to the success of the firm. They include the firm’s first receptionist, who worked at SSD until her retirement. SSD takes great pride in the many cherished staff members who spent most or all of their careers at the firm. Hard work and dedication are the cornerstones of the firm’s past and present staff and attorneys. Professional integrity and an unwavering commitment to delivering exceptional service have always been a tenet of SSD’s firm culture.
SSD is proud of the firm’s accomplishments over the past 30 years and the next generation of firm leadership will ensure that the strong sense of solidarity between attorneys and staff continues.
When asked what his hopes are for the future of the firm, Stuart said:
“to continue as it has, with people getting along and doing interesting and great work for great clients.”
Andy Hitchings (Managing Shareholder 2012-2015 and 2020-2021) shares those sentiments. “The core approach to our practice of law and service to clients has not changed from one generation of the firm to another,” says Hitchings. “What Paul and Stuart desired for the firm has been preserved over the years and will continue in the future.”
In recent years, many of the firm’s attorneys, like Mike Vergara, who launched the firm’s air quality practice in 2009, along with Andy Hitchings, Nick Jacobs, Ali Stevens, and Sarah Klahn (who was recently named Best Lawyers 2022 Water Law “Lawyer of the Year” in Denver) are shaping environmental law on behalf of their clients.
“The work that many of our attorneys are doing before state agencies is shaping regulatory policy and permitting throughout the entire western region,” says Bobbi Larson, who served as the firm’s Managing Shareholder over a decade ago.
In addition to shaping the legal landscape, the firm continues to be an example of gender diversity in the legal community by its election of Sandie Dunn over 20 years ago as one of the first female managing shareholders in the region, followed by Bobbi Larson, Theresa Barfield (current Managing Shareholder) and Ramsey Kropf (current Assistant Managing Shareholder).
Whether it’s securing a water right for the proposed Sites Reservoir that Aaron Ferguson and Andy Hitchings are managing, the landmark work Stuart Somach, Theresa Barfield, Sarah Klahn, Rich Deitchman, Francis “Mac” Goldsberry, and Bob Hoffman are performing as members of the litigation team for the State of Texas, the mediation work Ramsey Kropf is doing in Indian water right settlements, or water quality permitting assistance from Brittany Johnson as Regional San brings its EchoWater Project online, the next generation of attorneys at SSD continues to perform the quality of work that often exceeds client expectations.
“At our firm, clients don’t get passed along from one group of attorneys to another. If we are serving in an advice and counsel capacity for a client that gets hit with litigation, the original team has the skills needed to handle the matter all the way through to trial and appeal, if necessary, so we are unique in that regard,” states Andy Hitchings.
The firm is also supported by litigators Theresa Barfield and Jared Mueller, who offer clients a specialized perspective based on their careers of initiating and defending litigation.
Another unique quality of the firm is that associates get to dig in and perform interesting and meaningful work right out the gate, which is not typically available at the larger law firms.
Water, air, and land issues remain at the forefront of challenges and priorities across the western states, and the firm plans to continue being a leader in environmental law throughout the country.
“We have an ongoing opportunity to work together to address some of the western region’s most pressing water supply and environmental challenges, and I’m incredibly excited to serve in leadership of the firm during this period of possibility.”
– Theresa Barfield, Managing Shareholder
“With our strengths in providing creative and collaborative legal solutions for all clients across multiple states, we anticipate continued success.”
– Ramsey Kropf, Assistant Managing Shareholder
From five attorneys in 1991 to nearly 40 employees today, our PEOPLE have been paramount to the success of SSD. We’re celebrating our team throughout 2022 in special ways.
Our attorneys not only enjoy the practice of water, environmental, and natural resources law, but they are also often found enjoying our nation’s waters and landscapes in their spare time. In the spirit of preserving these natural spaces, SSD has partnered with local organizations: