Two former Holland & Knight lawyers have put Big Law in their rearview to launch a new land use and environmental law boutique in San Francisco.
Amanda Monchamp, who joined Holland & Knight in 2005, was most recently a partner at the firm in the city before setting up Monchamp Meldrum with Joanna “Joey” Meldrum.
Meldrum, who spent more than four years as a Holland & Knight associate, left the Am Law 100 firm’s San Francisco office earlier this year and joined the University of California, Hastings College of the Law as an adjunct professor teaching land use regulation law.
Monchamp Meldrum has been in business since March 26. The firm specializes in land use matters, environmental review, permitting and related litigation throughout California.
“I think a small platform gives you the flexibility to have different rate structure and that can open the door to an exciting, different mix of clients,” said Monchamp about her new shop.
Monchamp has focused her practice on land use and environmental issues for 15 years. She said that the current economic climate is favorable for boutiques, a few of which have recently been born in the Bay Area, because of the constraints and high costs often associated with some important development projects in California.
For example, as land prices in the Golden State continue to skyrocket, the redevelopment of so-called brownfield sites has become more attractive to affordable housing and for-profit real estate developers. Some of the work that Monchamp Meldrum has been handling includes helping clients clean up and reuse former industrial and agricultural land with contaminated groundwater or soil.
“Where we get involved is helping navigate what regulations apply to the site, making sure that the site gets cleaned up to the appropriate standards and helping [clients] navigate the process,” Meldrum said.
Furthermore, because of the California Environmental Quality Act that passed in 1970, the regulatory component on the West Coast is more vigorous than other jurisdictions. As a result, it’s important for Monchamp Meldrum to have expertise in the compliance process and litigation relating to various statutes, said the firm’s two co-founders.
The duo said that so far, their transition from Big Law to boutique has been a smooth one. As the pair plan to continue growing Monchamp Meldrum, one of the challenges they foresee is finding the right talent for that endeavor.
“We are definitely having discussions with folks about growing already,” Monchamp said.
As for Holland & Knight, which enjoyed a financially successful 2017, the former home of Monchamp Meldrum’s name partners has been busy hiring new partners this year.
Holland & Knight announced Monday its addition of international trade partner Seth Stodder in Los Angeles, where the former U.S. Department of Homeland Security official spent the past year as president and CEO of his own consulting firm, Palindrome Strategies.
Also headed to Holland & Knight are former Foley & Lardner white-collar partner Jonathan Halpern in New York, ex-DLA Piper health care litigator Matthew Grosack in Miami and financial services litigator Tricia DeLeon in Dallas, where she was most recently a partner at a now-defunct local firm.