Dowling Aaron in Fresno, California. (Courtesy photo)

Fresno, California-based Dowling Aaron has passed the 50-lawyer mark after bolting on The Saqui Law Group, a six-lawyer boutique based near Sacramento.

In an announcement earlier this month, labor and employment-focused Saqui said it would join up with Dowling Aaron as “of counsel,” with a full merger of the two firms planned for next year.

Michael Saqui, the founding partner of his namesake firm, which has offices in Roseville and Salinas, explained the “of counsel” position allows the two firms to work together on projects and assist each other while waiting for the merger to be finalized.

“I think with the current business political climate, I believe agriculture business interests are more challenged than ever, and this firm is being formed to answer those challenges,” said Saqui about the impetus behind his firm’s combination with Dowling Aaron.

California farmers and farmers nationwide are increasingly facing challenges, including immigration issues, minimum wage disputes and a shortage of workers that often results in an unfair competitive edge being given to other states, Saqui said. Other areas such as water rights and the environment are also making it more difficult for farmers to do businesses, he added.

“The challenges of our clients have grown exponentially,” Saqui said. “We believe it is time to put a firm together that can take on those challenges without having to send the businesses elsewhere. This will be a full-service firm for all agribusiness and businesses in California.”

Saqui’s firm was established in 2007—it was then known as Saqui & Raimondo—to advise California’s growers, packers and shippers on their labor and employment issues. Over the years, the firm grew to represent clients throughout the nation, working with the agricultural-focused Dowling Aaron on a number of matters to address the broader need of its clients.

As a full-service firm, Dowling Aaron has represented a wide range of clients in agribusiness and agricultural litigation. The firm, which has offices in Bakersfield, Fresno, Roseville and Visalia, also has expertise in business litigation, environmental law, intellectual property and water rights.

“The goal of the merger is to be a one-stop shop for our agribusiness clients throughout California and the West,” Saqui reiterated. He said the merger between both firms is expected to be finalized by January 2019, with the combination bringing together a team of roughly 50 lawyers.

Dowling Aaron, a firm once home to former California attorney general candidate-turned-state appellate judge Charles “Chuck” Poochigian, will see employees in its Roseville office move into Saqui’s space in the Sacramento suburb.

Saqui said his firm is also looking at potentially expanding its office on the Central Coast near Salinas. The deal with Dowling Aaron will see the latter have five offices throughout California.