Santa Rosa law firm Anderson, Ziegler, Disharoon, Gallagher & Gray is in the midst of a transitional period, as several key partners and shareholders segue out of the business and new attorneys step into leadership roles.
Two key shareholders are readying to leave the 25-year-old firm: Robert Disharoon, co-founder of the firm, and Robert Rutherfurd, a longtime attorney.
[caption id="attachment_77311" align="alignright" width="126"] Robert Disharoon[/caption]
Mr. Disharoon, who up until recently practiced out of the firm's Petaluma office, recently announced he would soon lessen his workload, dealing mainly with major clients as he wound down his career with the firm.
[caption id="attachment_77312" align="alignleft" width="130"] Robert Rutherfurd[/caption]
Mr. Rutherfurd, meanwhile, is shifting his focus from practicing law to obtaining a teaching credential from the University of Montana, where he will also pursue his passion for history. Mr. Rutherfurd, 55, has served as an adjunct professor at Santa Rosa's Empire College of Law, where teaching also became his passion.
Replacing two key members would be daunting for most firms, but Wendy Whitson, managing partner, said the firm was able to quickly identify new attorneys, including several local veterans, as it seeks to maintain its foothold in Sonoma County's legal world.
"It was going to leave us with a very big hole," Ms. Whitson said.
[caption id="attachment_77313" align="alignright" width="130"] Anthony Valluzzo[/caption]
Several attorneys have joined recently. Among them are Anthony Valluzzo, a Sonoma County attorney previously in private practice in estate planning, business law, trust administration and probate, and Donald Black, another Santa Rosa attorney in private practice in estate planning. Firm principals have known and worked with Mr. Black for years.
[caption id="attachment_77314" align="alignleft" width="144"] Lisa Yoshida[/caption]
Another recent addition is Lisa Yoshida, who first joined the firm in 1998 as an associate but left to start an affordable-housing developer. Later, she worked as a consultant for Burbank Housing Development Corp., then rejoined the firm late last year. Her practice area is real estate.
Ms. Whitson said the recent changeup has the firm well-positioned, rather than faced with what can be a difficult task in replacing longtime partners who can ultimately sink a law firm. The latter has happened locally.
"We have been fortunate enough to locate people who have similar skills and similar goals," Ms. Whitson said. "It puts us in a place where we're probably poised for growth in the next 10 years. Instead of limping along, we're poised to come out swinging."
Ms. Whitson also said the firm, based on its recent volume or work, will likely add new attorneys over the next year or so.
The firm's law specialties are employment and labor, environmental, estate planning and probate, intellectual property, litigation, mergers and acquisitions, real estate and land use, and tax. It has 15 full-time attorneys and a total staff of about 35, making it the 10th largest law firm in the North Bay, according to the 2013 Business Journal list of law firms.***
Gregory Wedner, managing partner with Lozano Smith, LLP, and practicing primarily in the North Bay and Sacramento, was named a Northern California Super Lawyer 2013 by Super Lawyers Magazine. Each year, fewer than 5 percent of the lawyers in the state receive the Super Lawyers designation, according to the law firm.