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After a decade at the helm of Peckar & Abramson’s San Francisco office, Raymond Buddie is leaving the construction law boutique to diversify his client base and go after some of the money he expects to come in from China. Buddie, who represents general contractors in both disputes and transactions, is joining the San Francisco office of 240-lawyer Allen Matkins Leck Gamble Mallory & Natsis today as one of four regional co-managers of the 20-lawyer construction group. Allen Matkins recruiting partner John Gamble said that the firm has been running its construction practice out of Southern California, but wants to build up that presence in Northern California. “In San Francisco, we have two to four people who’ve had some construction experience, but it’s not their primary area,” Gamble said. “We needed someone with expertise in that area to expand that group.” Buddie says conflicts have kept him from developing much of a client list beyond the general contractors that 100-lawyer Peckar & Abramson, based in New Jersey, specializes in. “I’ve been interested in branching out into the owners’ side, where I have some clients, and some on the subcontractor side.” Representing property owners on the public side, such as municipalities, water districts and college districts, could balance out the ups and downs of the general contractors’ market, he added. Buddie says the move will also help him take advantage of the infrastructure investment he expects will come pouring into California from Chinese contractors. These contractors have access to finances and specialized engineering know-how in areas like high-speed railways, but are still trying to figure out the best way to enter the market here. “The U.S. is still the single largest construction market in the world . . . in excess of a trillion dollars a year,” he said, “so there’s a lot of interest by foreign construction companies in becoming active in the U.S. market.” The firm also handles immigration, labor, tax and business formation law – all matters that a foreign-based contractor might run into on U.S. soil. “This move is a sign of the times, indicative of the advantages that exist at a full-service platform,” said San Francisco legal recruiter Avis Caravello, who brokered the deal. Buddie, who said his rates range from “upper fours to low fives,” has also held the post of chairman of the Marin County Planning Commission and mayor of Sausalito. Randall Wulff, a neutral at Oakland’s Wulff Quinby Sochynsky, said Buddie has appeared before him about 25 times over the past decade. “I think Ray is one of the most prominent members of the construction bar in the state,” Wulff said. He’s been involved in projects of “significant complexity and dollar value,” such as bridges, highways and pipelines, Wulff added. Farella Braun & Martel litigation partner Mark Petersen said Buddie’s involvement helped resolve a contentious case involving Buddie client Turner Construction Co. and Petersen client Encinal Broadway. “It was heading to trial. It was just vile and venom,” Petersen, who also joined the litigation midstream, said. “The entry of Ray Buddie into this case directly contributed to the parties resolving the case through mediation.” Peckar & Abramson founder Robert Peckar said that general contractor work has taken a hit in Northern California and that the firm will redirect its focus to Southern California, where it has two offices: Los Angeles and Orange County. Although the San Francisco office has reduced to two associates and a partner, down from about nine lawyers several months ago, Peckar said there is no plan to shut San Francisco down. “We’re going to build it back up to be appropriate to the amount of business that runs through the office,” he said. For now, he added, it is “operating with substantial involvement of our Southern California offices.” He said that Buddie’s choice made sense. “He started our office in San Francisco 10 years ago. He’s been a wonderful partner and still is a very dear friend,” Peckar said. “Ray has been in the political world of Northern California for quite some time and there have been quite a few opportunities he’s had to pass by being with us.”

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