Manatt Continues Expansion of Its Land, Environment and Natural Resources Practice

David C. Smith Brings Extensive Experience in Real Estate Development and Environmental Matters

Manatt today announced that David C. Smith—one of California’s leading land use attorneys—has joined its San Francisco and Costa Mesa offices as a partner. Smith comes to the firm from Stice & Block LLP, where he was a partner.

A seasoned land use attorney with a solid track record in California, Smith will play a key role in the
ongoing expansion of Manatt’s land, environment and natural resources group. He will advise individual land development companies, conservation companies and the real estate industry on land use, entitlement and regulatory issues at the federal, state, regional and local levels.

“David is well-known and well-regarded by major homebuilders throughout the state,” said Victor De la Cruz, co-chair of Manatt’s land use practice. “He brings to Manatt substantial experience dealing with state and federal agencies on a range of critical land use permitting issues. An attorney with a track record of his caliber is invaluable to our clients, and we are particularly excited about his role in further growing our Bay Area presence.”

For eight years, Smith worked as in-house counsel at national real estate developer DMB, serving as liaison between the company and a range of government entities and crafting strategies that solved legal issues and minimized potential disputes. Earlier in his career, he was vice president of government affairs and general counsel at the Building Industry Association of Southern California and its Building Industry Legal Defense Foundation. In that role he was responsible for engaging with industry leaders and government regulators to identify and address pivotal legal issues affecting the real estate development business.

“When David was the general counsel for BIA Southern California, he was on top and ahead of every major issue affecting the homebuilding industry,” said Susan K. Hori, co-chair of Manatt’s land use practice. “As in-house counsel for DMB, he managed the entitlement and permitting issues for some of the most complicated projects ever proposed in the western United States, including on the San Francisco Bay. I’m excited that he’s joining the firm.”

“What drew me to Manatt were its reputation and its people,” said Smith. “Structuring a real estate project has become an increasingly complex, time-consuming process, and I’ve long been impressed by the firm’s ability to help clients complete their projects on time and within budget. Suffice to say, I’m very much looking forward to being part of such an accomplished team.”

A frequent writer and speaker on land use, environmental and real estate development issues, Smith focuses his practice on, among other areas, California climate change and water supply law, and state and federal endangered species acts. Other specific areas of focus are the McAteer-Petris Act and its San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission, the federal Clean Water Act and the Porter-Cologne Water Quality Control Act, the National Environmental Policy Act and the California Environmental Quality Act, and California’s planning and zoning laws.

Smith earned his J.D. from Pepperdine University and his B.A. from the University of California, Los Angeles.

About Manatt
Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, LLP, is one of the nation’s leading law and consulting firms, with offices strategically located in California (Los Angeles, Orange County, Palo Alto, San Francisco and Sacramento), New York (New York City and Albany), Chicago and Washington, D.C. The firm represents a sophisticated client base—including Fortune 500, middle-market and emerging companies—across a range of practice areas and industry sectors. For more information, visit



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