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Best Best & Krieger has opened its first office outside of California with the acquisition of Washington’s Miller & Van Eaton, a firm specializing in telecommunications law. That firm’s six lawyers will join Riverside, Calif.-based BB&K on July 1. Managing Partner Eric Garner said the firm’s municipal clients have a growing need for legal expertise in telecommunications. “Telecommunications is just an even bigger part of all of our lives, and the transmission of data is becoming a more and more complex thing to accomplish. And so, for our public agency clients, it’s just a more pressing issue than it’s ever been,” he said. BB&K’s 200 lawyers occupy eight offices in California and specialize in municipal, environmental, water resources and business law. It supplies city attorneys for 30 California cities. Many of the firm’s clients require expertise in federal laws including the Clean Water Act and the Endangered Species Act, Garner said. And under the Obama administration, many anticipate being affected by proposed laws and regulations that are still being drafted. “You can do a lot of that representation from a distance, but in terms of when the laws are being made, when regulations are being crafted, there is also a time and no substitute for being on the ground in D.C.,” Garner said. Miller & Van Eaton, which was formed in 1985 as Miller & Holbrooke, handles legal issues affecting the cable television, broadcasting and wireless communications industries. It became Miller & Van Eaton in 1997. The firm, which has an office in San Francisco, is active in legislative, regulatory and judicial matters and has a governmental relations practice. The firm has helped more than 250 municipalities with telecommunications advice about cable television franchise problems, cellular tower zoning decisions, public safety communications systems and telephone rates and contracts. “We fit very, very naturally into the BB&K world because we do a lot of work for California clients now,” said Nicholas Miller, managing partner of Miller & Van Eaton, who will join BB&K as a partner. Those clients include the city and county of Los Angeles and the cities of Carlsbad and San Jose, Calif. “BB&K gives us a real reach into the California market,” he said, “plus it gives us more support in representing our current large California clients.” Additional Miller & Van Eaton clients are in Texas, Missouri, Minnesota and the mid-Atlantic region, Miller said. Miller is a former U.S. Senate communications counsel and special consultant to the White House on telephone deregulation issues. Name partner Joseph Van Eaton, an appellate specialist who has represented cities in drafting wireless communications ordinances and negotiated franchises for cable providers, will join as a partner. Joining of counsel are Gerard Lederer, former general counsel of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, who advocates for public and private property owners affected by telecommunications legislation and regulation; and James Hobson, a former official at the Federal Communications Commission and former Washington counsel for GTE Corp., now part of Verizon Communications Inc., who specializes in public safety communications. Both were of counsel at Miller & Van Eaton. Two associates, Gail Karish and Matthew Schettenhelm, are joining BB&K as associates.

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