Colantuono, Highsmith & Whatley, PC and its lawyers have deep experience in the full range of legal issues confronting California’s cities, counties, special districts and special-purpose public agencies like joint exercise of powers authorities (JPAs) and non-profit corporations providing a wide range of services to their communities.


Appellate Representation

Colantuono, Highsmith & Whatley, PC has a deep and experienced team of appellate litigators with experience in every appellate court in California. Michael G. Colantuono is a member of the California Academy of Appellate Lawyers, a prestigious organization of fewer than 100 of California’s most accomplished appellate advocates. Our firm has argued 10 cases in the California Supreme Court since 2004.

Bankruptcy and Creditors’ Rights

Colantuono, Highsmith & Whatley, PC has substantial expertise in representing businesses, individuals, and other parties in interest in bankruptcy and insolvency matters, including debtors, creditors, trustees, receivers, creditors’ committees, and potential purchasers in bankruptcy proceedings. We have experience in all aspects of bankruptcy, including relief from the automatic stay, use of cash collateral, contested plans of reorganization and liquidation, and avoidance of preferential or fraudulent transfers. We also have experience representing borrowers and lenders in loan workouts for non-performing and distressed investments.

Cities & Counties

Colantuono, Highsmith & Whatley, PC represents local governments throughout California as general and special counsel in municipal law, including public revenues, land use, elections, labor and employment, redevelopment, housing, the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), the Cortese-Knox-Hertzberg Act regarding Local Agency Formation Commissions, and associated litigation. Our core commitment is to provide advice our clients find helpful, understandable, and fairly priced.

Complex Litigation

Colantuono, Highsmith & Whatley, PC’s attorneys have extensive experience representing public agencies throughout California on the full range of litigation matters such agencies face, such as tax, assessment, and fee challenges; election law disputes, land-use and CEQA matters; employment litigation; post-redevelopment matters; and challenges to legislation. The firm represents cities, counties, special districts, joint powers authorities and non-profits in the pre-litigation stage and at mediations, administrative hearings, arbitrations, trial and through all stages of an appeal. The firm has argued 6 cases in the California Supreme Court, in every California Court of Appeal, in the federal trial courts in California and before the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Constitutional Issues

Colantuono, Highsmith & Whatley, PC has a deep and experienced team of litigators and advisory lawyers with experience in a wide range of constitutional issues that arise for our public agency clients.


Colantuono, Highsmith & Whatley, PC’s attorneys have broad experience advising and representing public agencies and elections officials throughout the state in all aspects of elections law.

Eminent Domain & Inverse Condemnation

Colantuono, Highsmith & Whatley, PC has significant expertise in eminent domain and inverse condemnation representation as counsel, advisors and litigators.

Labor & Employment

Colantuono, Highsmith & Whatley, PC has a team of experienced labor and employment attorneys able to meet local agencies’ labor and employment legal needs from training; day-to-day wage, hour and leave advice, including Fair Labor Standards requirements; disciplinary documentation; decision and effects bargaining; to administrative hearings and litigation.

Land Use and CEQA

Colantuono, Highsmith & Whatley, PC’s attorneys bring their several decades of combined experience in all aspects of land use law to serve public agency clients on any regulatory or proprietary land use matter.

Local Agency Formation Commissions (LAFCos)

Colantuono, Highsmith & Whatley, PC’s attorneys are among just a few in California with deep expertise in the Cortese-Knox-Hertzberg Act (the CKH Act), the law governing Local Agency Formation Commissions, or LAFCos. The Firm currently serves as general counsel to the Calaveras, San Diego and Yuba LAFCos and as alternate counsel to several other LAFCos on matters as to which their general counsels have conflicts of interest.

Marijuana Taxation & Regulation

Colantuono, Highsmith & Whatley has a robust practice advising cities and counties as they regulate California’s burgeoning marijuana industries.

Post Redevelopment & Affordable Housing

In the wake of the elimination of Redevelopment Agencies, Colantuono, Highsmith & Whatley, PC provides interpretation and application advice to its Successor Agency, Oversight Board and City clients in the post-RDA wind-down process. And, when necessary, we are ready and able to defend our clients’ interests in litigation.

Public Safety Defense Litigation

Colantuono, Highsmith & Whatley PC’s attorneys have broad trial and appellate experience in the defense of law enforcement officers and agencies. Our attorneys are also seasoned in defending liability claims involving alleged excessive force, officer misconduct and other claims as well as defending Pitchess motions, responding to subpoenas for law enforcement records, and advising public agencies on Public Safety Officers Procedural Bill of Rights, labor and employment, and related issues.

Public Works Contracting

Colantuono, Highsmith & Whatley counsels a broad range of California local governments on all aspects of public works contracting from competitive bidding requirements, project finance, and CEQA compliance to bid disputes, change orders, contract disputes, and prevailing wage matters. We are equipped to handle complex construction litigation and dispute resolution in court or in alternative dispute resolution across the state.

Public Revenues & Rate-Making

Colantuono, Highsmith & Whatley, PC is California’s leading expert on our complex laws governing local government revenues, including Propositions 13, 62, 218 and 26. Our attorneys argued 10 government revenue cases to the California Supreme Court.

Special Districts & Other Special-Purpose Agencies

Special districts provide a wide range of government services, with each special district facing its own unique circumstances based on the community, its principal act, and increased oversight from the state and federal governments. Our attorneys stay current on the laws affecting special districts and bring decades of experience to each project and client.