Practice

  • Administrative Law (Procurement, Licensing & Regulatory Hearings)

    We represent clients before almost all state, and numerous local, administrative agencies in a number of key areas, including health, energy, gaming, transportation, environmental compliance, public finance, taxation, licensing, contracting and procurement and land use. We also represent clients before California’s constitutional offices and administrative bodies such as the Department of Justice, Department of Insurance, Franchise Tax Board, Board of Equalization, Fair Political Practices Commission, Air Resources Board, Energy Commission, Board of Control, Coastal Commission, Gambling Control Commission, Lottery Commission, Department of Health Services, Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control, Department of Corporations, State Board of Education and Department of General [...]
  • Ballot Measures (Initiative & Referendum)

    Over the past four decades, Nielsen Merksamer has been legal counsel for either the opponents or proponents of more than 400 ballot measures, including most major California statewide initiatives or referenda, along with scores of local ballot measures. We advise our ballot measure clients on all aspects of campaigning, from initiative drafting and filing, contesting ballot language and other pre-election litigation, observing and potentially contesting the final vote, and post-election substantive challenges.
  • California State and Local Tax Advocacy

    Nielsen Merksamer is the only firm in the nation able to fight for clients in every arena where California tax matters are resolved—whether it is through litigation or administrative controversy, regulatory or legislative lobbying, or tax initiatives and referenda. We have a deep understanding of how all these arenas can be used to craft a strategy to obtain our clients’ objectives, and have successfully done so for years. We have broad experience in all California taxes, including corporate and personal income and franchise taxes, sales and use taxes, property taxes, alcoholic beverage and tobacco taxes, insurance taxes and any of [...]
  • Campaign Finance, Gift & Lobby Disclosure Compliance

    Nielsen Merksamer has developed a cutting-edge political law practice in establishing and maintaining multi-state or multi-jurisdictional campaign, gift and lobby legal compliance systems for large corporations and executives with activities and interests in more than one state. In so doing, the firm has developed a uniquely broad knowledge in political laws as well as a familiar working relationship with the officials in the agencies that interpret and enforce these laws that better enable us to advise our clients on how best to comply with the law.
  • Education Governance & Organization

    Our firm has extensive experience advising school districts and local community groups on school district governance and organization issues, and representing such clients before local bodies and the State Board of Education. The firm has assisted with reorganizations, including unifications and territory transfers, changing school board electoral systems, drafting and advocating special legislation to address unique governance and organizational issues, and advising on political reporting compliance, conflict of interest and political campaign questions.
  • Election Law & Litigation

    Nielsen Merksamer attorneys are recognized experts in election law, including the laws governing election administration, election contests and recounts, recall elections, voting systems, and electoral reforms and issues relating to the use of public funds in connection with campaigns and elections. We advise both elections officials and campaigns with respect to these laws, and have successfully litigated elections issues at all levels of the state and federal courts, including the United States Supreme Court.
  • Ethics Agencies – Representation & Enforcement

    Nielsen Merksamer attorneys have considerable experience representing clients with political law enforcement matters before the Federal Election Commission, state and local ethics commissions including the California Fair Political Practices Commission, and other law enforcement agencies.
  • Governmental Ethics & Conflicts of Interest

    We routinely advise public officials, and those who must interact with them, on the laws governing such interactions, whether it be a question of what events a public official can be invited to, what activities an employee who recently left public service can legitimately participate in, whether public officials have disqualifying conflicts of interest, and how many of these interactions must be reported.
  • Gaming & Horseracing

    Nielsen Merksamer attorneys have been in the forefront of the development of California’s gaming laws and regulations for nearly 30 years. The firm has represented horse racing interests and card clubs grappling with the regulatory and policy issues arising under the state’s Horse Racing Law, Gambling Control Act and local ordinances. Nielsen Merksamer has litigated on behalf these interests in both state and federal court and our attorneys have represented gaming clients before the State Legislature, the California Horse Racing Board, and the California Gambling Control Commission. The firm is regularly consulted on gaming issues by state and local policy [...]
  • Healthcare Law & Policy

    Nielsen Merksamer has been actively involved in the development of health care policy in California since the 1980s. The firm represents a broad range of participants in the health care arena – from health plans down to practitioner groups who provide patient care. In doing so, the firm has gained an unparalleled amount of knowledge, insight and expertise about the health care delivery system, which is critical to navigating the increasingly complex world of managed health care and understanding the requirements of the federal Affordable Health Care Act. We work with all California state agencies and departments involved in the [...]
  • Indian Gaming Law

    Nielsen Merksamer attorneys are widely known as experts in the implementation of the federal Indian Gaming Regulatory Act and corollary federal Indian laws. Because California is home to over 100 tribes, who are located throughout the length and breadth of the State, the firm has represented numerous local governments and other affected entities in the areas where tribes seek to establish tribal casinos. Nielsen Merksamer has represented local governments and others in state and federal court, the State Legislature, state and federal administrative agencies, and tribal-state compact arbitration proceedings. We have litigated issues ranging from the constitutionality of certain gaming [...]
  • Legislative Advocacy and Strategic Advice

    Nielsen Merksamer is one of the top lobbying shops in Sacramento. Many of our senior attorneys have held top positions in California state and local government, serving under elected officeholders of both major political parties. Others have served in important elected or appointed positions. As a result we have a thorough understanding of the governmental process at every level, and are able to anticipate and resolve issues arising in the Legislature and administrative and regulatory bodies. We also provide legal and strategic advice to corporations, trade associations, state contract bidders, government entities, permit applicants, developers, public relations consultants and other [...]
  • Litigation (Trial, Appellate & Administrative)

    Nielsen Merksamer attorneys have broad trial and appellate experience and represent the firm’s diverse clientele in the courts and before administrative agencies across the state. The firm is a leader in high-stakes litigation, including cases regarding the interpretation and legality of statutes and agency regulations and the validity of state and local ballot measures. And our litigators represent clients in a broad array of cutting-edge government, regulatory, political, electoral, tax, and constitutional litigation at all levels of the state and federal courts, including the United States Supreme Court, and before administrative agencies.
  • Local Government

    Nielsen Merksamer has for many years been at the forefront of major issues arising between the State and local governments. These include fiscal policy, taxation, health and human services programs, public safety, land use and environmental issues. The firm represents numerous local jurisdictions, including counties, cities, and special districts, as well as the statewide organizations acting on behalf of those entities, both before the Legislature and in litigation. Nielsen Merksamer has also served as counsel to statewide initiative campaigns on behalf of local jurisdictions.
  • Nonprofits

    Nielsen Merksamer organizes and administers tax-exempt organizations, including charitable and governmental organizations, social benefit organizations, trade associations, etc. We also represent such organizations before the Internal Revenue Service, the California Franchise Tax Board and the California Attorney General.
  • PAC Administration & Advice

    Nielsen Merksamer’s political law attorneys advise many of the leading political players—including corporations, major campaign donors, trade associations and labor unions and their political action committees (PACs)—with respect to the legal and technical requirements of the Federal Election Campaign Act, California’s complex Political Reform Act, and, for clients active in multiple states, the campaign laws of the 50 states, including on the local level. In connection with this counsel, we provide comprehensive bookkeeping and treasurer services, and we prepare campaign reports which must be filed on the federal, state and local levels.
  • Political Reporting Unit

    Integral to Nielsen Merksamer’s political law practice is the firm’s Political Reporting Unit. The firm has a knowledgeable, experienced staff of non-attorney “Political Reports Specialists” that, under the supervision of the firm’s attorneys, prepare and file the various federal, state, and local campaign, lobby and gift reports, and tax filings, required by law.
  • Property Rights & Rent Control

    The firm’s lawyers have protected the rights property owners and successfully litigated significant rent control, property rights, and related constitutional law issues for more than 20 years. The firm counsels clients regarding sophisticated property rights issues and represents clients in complex proceedings before administrative agencies, rent control boards, and in the trial and appellate courts.
  • Voting Rights & Redistricting

    Nielsen Merksamer has 30 years of experience advising state and local entities on voting rights and redistricting law—a level of experience, we believe, that is unparalleled in California. In 2011-12 alone, the firm advised well over 100 public entities on all aspects of the redistricting process and state and federal voting rights law. Nielsen Merksamer also has extensive experience litigating all aspects of voting rights law, redistricting and elections law, including the federal and California Voting Rights Act. In addition to our legal knowledge and experience, our voting rights legal team has technical proficiency (unmatched among California law firms, to [...]