One of America’s top lobbying and law firms bided time for years while it waited for the perfect candidate to spearhead its expansion into Arizona.
The waiting ended when Marty Shultz announced his retirement.
Shultz will join the new Phoenix office of Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck as its senior policy analyst immediately after he retires from Pinnacle West at the end of December. The Denver-based lobbying and law firm plans to hire a team of attorneys to work with Shultz starting next year.
For Shultz, the firm was an ideal fit for his style. Brownstein places a tremendous emphasis on community development and civic service, which are hallmarks of Shultz’s 32-year career with Arizona Public Service, the state’s largest utility. The firm specializes on the type of public policy that Shultz has focused on for decades, such as alternative energy, water rights and real estate development.
“You’ve got an organization that was willing to come to town, willing to invest in Arizona, that is not just another law firm, but instead has a balance between public affairs and a law practice,” Shultz told the ~Arizona Capitol Times~. “They have a focus on community relations. I identify closely with that.”
Bruce James, Brownstein’s managing partner and CEO, said the firm had been considering opening a branch office in Phoenix for years, but had waited for the right people to lead the team. The firm already has a dozen offices in California, Colorado, Nevada and New Mexico.
“The one area that’s always been kind of a hole in our footprint is Phoenix. And I’ve had people ask me over the last three or four years, ‘Why aren’t you in Phoenix?’ And my answer has been, ‘We haven’t found the right people,’” James said. “We really feel like now we can call up our clients … and say, ‘This is why we’ve been waiting to come into Phoenix.’”
Brownstein also recruited two local attorneys, Jeff Crockett and Carlos Ronstadt, from the firm Snell & Wilmer to join its Phoenix office. Crockett is an expert in utilities and energy law, and Shultz and James described Ronstadt as one of the premier water attorneys in the state. James said he expects Ronstadt to bring the Central Arizona Project, a client of his for the past 10 years, to Brownstein.
James and Shultz said they will announce more additions in January. They said six other people who are well-connected to Arizona’s legal and political communities have committed to joining the firm.
By the end of its first year, Brownstein’s Phoenix office may have 18 to 20 attorneys, James said. And he expects the firm to keep growing in the years to come.
“We have tremendous relationships within the Senate and House in D.C.,” James said. “When we can marry those relationships with someone like Marty and some of the others that we’ll announce in January, people will understand that really for the first time they will have a unique set of relationships in Phoenix where they can reach out to D.C.”
James said Brownstein hires people who have a passion for community involvement, a criterion Shultz will have no difficulty meeting. Shultz said he plans to continue chairing the Phoenix Community Alliance, Arizona’s Bioscience Roadmap and the Discovery Triangle Development Corporation. He also will continue his involvement with Gov. Jan Brewer’s fledgling Arizona Commerce Authority.
“When I meet somebody and they haven’t done any community service, they haven’t been on boards, they haven’t been involved in key issues, they might be the greatest lawyer in the world, but I just know they’re not going to be a cultural fit for us,” James said.
James said Shultz impressed him during their first meeting when they spent most of their lunch talking about community service instead of policy or politics. But that was only part of the equation. The other factors were Shultz’s policy credentials and political connections.
Brownstein prides itself on its status as the only Western-based firm in the upper echelon of Washington, D.C.’s lobbying big boys, and focuses heavily on issues surrounding water, natural resources, energy, alternative energy and bioscience. Between his work at APS and his extracurricular community development activities, Shultz is well-versed and passionate about the same issues.
Shultz’s work with the bioscience roadmap will dovetail with Brownstein’s work in the field. For example, the firm serves as outside general counsel for a project that will convert a former Air Force base in the Denver area into what James called one of the country’s leading bioscience campuses.
The firm also took a major role in the last round of negotiations over the compact that divvied up Colorado River water rights among Arizona and its neighboring states, James said. He expects Brownstein, and Shultz, to have a seat at the table during the inevitable renegotiation of the compact.
To Shultz, it will be a continuation of the work he began in 1980, when then-Gov. Bruce Babbitt appointed him to the water conservation board created by the state Groundwater Management Act.
“When you think about the future from an Arizona perspective … eventually there will be a need to reapportion, if you will, and sort out the original compact that gave Arizona water,” Shultz said. “It is going to be a war if that’s what it comes to, but it doesn’t have to be because of the cooperative effort.”
Despite the new gig, Shultz said he plans to slow down a little. He said his agreement with Brownstein will give him more leisure time with his wife, Linda, and their grandchildren. He said he’ll step down from some of the civic and community organizations he works with, but he refused to identify which ones he will drop.
“My intention was to retire and then continue my involvement with civic activities, possibly with an additional client or two, but re-pace myself. And when recruited by the firm, I found this is an opportunity to re-pace myself, plus,” Shultz said.