LOS ANGELES — Jones Hall, a California law firm that specializes in public finance, has promoted two lawyers to partner as it continues to grow.
The firm added three associates last summer expanding the number of attorneys to 20. It now has 14 shareholders and six associates.
The new partners, Katie Dobson and Julie Wunderlich, have “demonstrated they have what it takes,” said Scott Ferguson, chief operating officer.
In addition to demonstrating a commitment to the firm, Dobson and Wunderlich have both developed an expertise in school financing, a very robust area of the firm’s practice, Ferguson said.
Roughly 20% of Wunderlich’s practice is in multifamily affordable housing. That area could experience a slow down since the steep reduction in corporate taxes in the recently passed federal tax bill could slow demand for the tax credits.
“As a result there would be fewer transactions to close this year,” Wunderlich said. “We are waiting to see what happens.”
Wunderlich has spent her entire legal career at Jones Hall.
She worked for a real estate developer and then at a title company for 10 years after earning her bachelor’s degree before she attending law school. Jones Hall, who was one of her clients at the title firm, hired her as a paralegal in 1999.
“It turned out to be a great place to work while finishing law school and to begin my law career,” Wunderlich.
Wunderlich said public finance is a great practice area and she enjoys the contrast between the real estate-related work and her specialty in school districts, which she said have entirely different tax issues and transaction structures.
Since Wunderlich became a lawyer in 2001, she has worked as bond, disclosure and special counsel for local governments, school districts, housing authorities and joint powers authorities closing hundreds of transactions.
Both new partners say they enjoy the collegiality of Jones Hall.
Dobson worked in corporate finance first at Cahill, Gordon & Reindel LLP in New York from 2008 to 2011 and then at Chapman & Cutler from 2011 until 2013, when she joined Jones Hall.
Though the first two firms she worked at were larger, Jones Hall’s corporate culture has her sold on the advantages of working for the smaller firm. Dobson described Jones Hall as a place with an open-door policy where the attorneys work closely together and the more senior partners are willing to share their knowledge.
Dobson’s practice also has a real estate bent as she works on Mello Roos community facilities district bonds, but she said she gained that knowledge so she could advise school districts involved in community facilities districts.
“I want to be able to provide school districts with the best services for all of their needs,” Dobson said.
Dobson works with school districts and community college districts primarily as bond counsel and disclosure counsel on general obligation bonds, bond elections, certifications of participation and Mello-Roos bonds.
Prior to joining Jones Hall, Dobson represented issuers and underwriters in corporate debt and equity financings.
The firm has hired eight new attorneys over the past three years and promoted five people to partner. It has had two retirements during that time frame.
Jones Hall ranked fourth among bond counsel in California for first-half 2017 with 122 transactions totaling $2.4 billion, according to Thomson Reuters data.
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Corrected January 17, 2018 at 2:23PM: Scott Ferguson’s title and the number of new associates hired was incorrect in an earlier version.