Attorney at Law Magazine Los Angeles sat down with Sarah Torres sat down with Timothy Martin to discuss his career in environmental law.
AALM: What first drew you to environmental law?
Martin: Unlike many of my peers in the legal profession, I did not go straight to law school after graduating from college in 1986. Instead, I spent more than 10 years after graduation working in a variety of campaign and project advocacy positions in the nonprofit environmental movement, including several years with the national legal advocacy group the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). During these years, I worked on several national campaigns seeking changes in recycling policy; the sustainability of pulp and paper production and the protection of critical North American forest ecosystems.
AALM: When did you first know you wanted to become an attorney?
Martin: During my extended stint as a nonprofit, environmental campaigner, I worked closely with professionals of all different stripes, including technical experts, engineers, land developers and attorneys. I realized that my skill set closely matched those of many of the environmental and land use attorneys that I encountered. Accordingly, I decided to pursue a career as an attorney in those related fields, and entered law school at UCLA in 1999.
AALM: Describe your early career. What was it like practicing at a large firm for eight years? What did you learn while there?
Martin: I graduated from law school in 2002, with the fortunate position (during a recession) of having obtained a secure position as an associate at the Century City-based firm of Jeffer, Mangels, Butler & Marmaro (now Jeffer, Mangels, Butler & Mitchell). For the first several years at JMBM, I primarily worked on strictly environmental law cases for a variety of corporate and developer clients on matters involving cost-recovery litigation, writ of mandate actions, real estate due diligence and regulatory compliance matters. I worked closely with a number of well-respected environmental attorneys who provided me with invaluable mentoring in both the substance of environmental law, as well as the daily practice of law. I continue to rely on the training I received during those years in my current, solo practice.
AALM: How does your environmental practice coincide with land and real estate law?
Martin: At JMBM, I also worked on a number of matters involving the development of land, where I developed a complementary expertise in local land use law, as well as a deep understanding of a multitude of real estate law issues, including easements, boundary disputes and eminent domain. Later, at the boutique law firm of CA Land Use Professionals that I co-founded in 2010, I increasingly worked with small and medium sized developers and land owners on both environmental and land use/real estate matters. My current practice is similarly focused on providing a high level of legal services in the fields of both environmental and land use law.
AALM: What led you to start your own practice?
Martin: I have become increasingly concerned about the escalation of legal fees, which effectively serve to price out many potential clients in need of high quality legal services in the environmental and land use law areas. Most of my peers in these fields practice at large firms, with hourly rates in the stratosphere. By practicing on my own, I can keep operational costs down considerably, and, consequently, pass on these savings to my clients in the form of reasonable rates.
AALM: What do you most hope to accomplish in the future?
Martin: My goal over the next several years is to sustain my practice in a way that allows me to continue to provide all of my clients with high level, expert legal services, while maintaining a healthy life balance between work and family.