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San Francisco’s Nossaman Guthner Knox & Elliott is betting on increasing demand for infrastructure growth � and toll roads � as it opens a four-lawyer Seattle office this month. This move follows the firm’s recent expansion into Washington, D.C., and Austin, Texas, a response to the country’s escalating traffic congestion and dwindling infrastructure funding, firm lawyers say. Nossaman works with the public side of public-private partnerships that are behind toll roads and other innovatively financed projects. “You’ve got state agencies that have overwhelming infrastructure needs,” adds Scott DeVries, the firm’s managing partner. “Many roads are crumbling. There’s so much that needs to be done as people move into different locations.” The Seattle office will be staffed with new addition Ross Macfarlane, the former general counsel for the Seattle Monorail Project, partner Margo Easton Bennett, who joined the firm in April, and existing Nossaman attorneys David Tan and Jean Melious. The firm is targeting the Pacific Northwest in part for its innovative approaches to transportation projects, such as the Tacoma Narrows Bridge, a modern toll facility in Washington. Geoffrey Yarema, the leader of the infrastructure practice group, says the Pacific Northwest’s economies depend on the ability to deliver. “We believe there are real solutions to what might seem to be intractable infrastructure problems.” The firm got its start in the infrastructure field several decades ago, with toll roads in Orange County. They parlayed that expertise in California and later nationwide. “It’s a perfect match � our experience with the needs in the marketplace,” DeVries said. While some commodity municipal-backed projects may bring in lower prices, DeVries said this type of legal work is priced favorably. “The government recognizes this is a unique area of expertise and are prepared to price it accordingly,” he said. “They know they need to do it right.” Nossaman has already worked on numerous projects in the Pacific Northwest including the Tacoma Narrows Bridge, the British Columbia Ministry of Transportation’s Sea-to-Sky Highway project, and the Idaho Transportation Department’s Connecting Idaho program. The firm is also looking to parlay its land use and environmental experience in Seattle, DeVries said. Often, infrastructure projects can give rise to work in complementary practices. For now, the firm’s main focus is to expand its existing seven offices, which now include 135 attorneys and lobbyists. But DeVries said he’s not ruling anything out, especially given the rising need and few competitors: “We will be opportunistic.”

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