News & Information


Recent Accomplishments

  • Court Upholds Conservation Easement: The firm represented the Sonoma Land Trust in a 6-week trial to enforce a conservation easement, after which the court ruled in favor of the Land Trust and required full restoration of the protected property, damages for irreplaceable oak trees, and reimbursement of the Land Trust’s costs.   -Read more-  
  • Attorneys Recognized with Amicus Service Award: Three SMW attorneys received the Amicus Service Award from the International Municipal Lawyers Association (IMLA). Attorneys Matthew D. Zinn, Laura Beaton, and Andrew Schwartz were recognized for their work drafting the SCOTUS amicus brief for Knick v. Township of Scott.  
  • SMW Partner Teaching at Stanford Law School: Andrew Schwartz recently became a Lecturer at Stanford Law School where he teaches a course on Land Use Law.  
  • SMW Welcomes Two New Partners: The firm is proud to announce the addition of Sara Clark and Sarah Sigman to the partnership. Both new partners joined SMW as environmental fellows and bring significant public agency and non-profit experience, including in the areas of land conservation, CEQA, in-fill development, land use, and election law.   
  • SMW Ranked Top Tier Nationally Among 2019 "Best Law Firms": U.S. News and Best Lawyers® have again given Shute, Mihaly & Weinberger LLP a “Tier 1” ranking in four categories among law firms in the San Francisco metropolitan area, and three national awards, including a prestigious “Tier 1” ranking among all firms nationally in Land Use & Zoning Law. View the rankings here.  
  • 2018 Super Lawyers: Super Lawyers magazine has recognized SMW attorneys Rachel Hooper, Fran Layton, Andrew Schwartz, Ellison Folk, Robert "Perl" Perlmutter and Bill White as Northern California Super Lawyers for 2018, and Sky Stanfield as a 2018 Rising Star.  
  • Decisive Win in Moreno Valley: The firm challenged the adoption of a developer-sponsored initiative intended to skirt environmental review requirements for the massive World Logistics Center project in Moreno Valley. The California Court of Appeal recently held in a unanimous opinion that development agreements cannot be adopted by initiative.  
  • Ballot Measure Protected: The firm successfully defended a citizen initiative to encourage use of the historic Capitola Trestle as a bicycle and pedestrian trail. The Santa Cruz Superior Court rejected a pre-election challenge by the City of Capitola, ensuring that Capitola voters can weigh in on this important policy choice.   
  • SCOTUS Brief: In Knick v. Township of Scott, SMW filed an amicus brief in the U.S. Supreme Court on behalf of eight local government groups, including the National Governors Association and the National League of Cities. The brief makes the case for preserving state courts’ jurisdiction over regulatory takings claims.   
  • Energy Hero: The Interstate Renewable Energy Council honored SMW’s Sky Stanfield as one of its 2018 Energy Heroes. IREC recognized Sky for her pioneering leadership on renewable energy. Sky’s expertise has been instrumental to IREC's work to increase consumer access to clean energy and expedite the transition to a low-carbon energy system.  
More SMW accomplishments  

Recent Presentations & Publications

  • Urban Mobility: SMW attorney Andrew Schwartz gave a presentation on flexibility and the future of urban mobility at a symposium sponsored by San Francisco Bay Area Planning and Urban Research Association (SPUR) in San Jose.  
  • Planning for Climate Change: SMW attorney Andrew Schwartz gave a keynote presentation on mitigating and adapting to global warming at the annual conference of the American Planning Association Federal Division in San Francisco.  
  • Public Agency Update (Winter 2019): SMW offers this Top 10 list to help newly elected councilmembers acclimate to their positions. The list includes new councilmember training materials and tips and resources on the Brown Act, conflict of interest laws, the Public Records Act, social media use, municipal policies and procedures, and working with the city attorney.   -Read more-
  • Public Agency Update (Winter 2019): Wildfire poses a significant risk to public health and safety, economies, infrastructure, and natural resources. The Legislature stepped up its efforts in 2018 to address wildfires but local agencies can further decrease the potential for wildfire by establishing procedures and safeguards.   -Read more-
  • Supreme Court preview webinar: SMW attorney Matt Zinn gave a presentation on three upcoming cases in the US Supreme Court at a webinar hosted by the State and Local Legal Center and the National Association of Counties. A recording of the webinar is available here.   
  • Public Agency Update (Spring 2018): In the last edition of In the Public Interest, we provided a summary of the legislation enacted by the State in 2017 to address California’s growing housing crisis. Since then, another highly controversial housing bill—SB 827—died in the Legislature.   -Read more-
  • Public Agency Update (Spring 2018): On April 23, in Colony Cove Properties, LLC v. City of Carson, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals reaffirmed that local governments have broad leeway to regulate the use of property without causing a “taking” under the Takings Clause of the Fifth Amendment.   -Read more-
  • Public Agency Update (Spring 2018): The year 2017 was marked by legal conflict between the State of California and the federal government. Hidden amidst higher-profile state enactments was SB 50, a statute that on the surface looks like a procedural conservation measure but will have substantial practical effects for many local agencies.   -Read more-
  • Indian Law Articles: SMW attorneys published two articles in the April 2018 California Indian Law Association Newsletter. Sara Clark’s article discusses new mechanisms to ensure adequate consultation between tribes and federal, state, and local governments. Stephanie Safdi’s article considers the gap in federally recognized water quality standards for tribal lands.  
  • Public Agency Update (Winter 2018): The State is taking numerous steps to encourage energy storage in California. Cities and counties will have important roles to play as well. Assembly Bill (AB) 546, passed last year, includes specific local permitting obligations. SMW attorney Erica McConnell provides an overview of the new law.   -Read more-
More SMW presentations and publications