This week, we profile Mitch Abbott:
CEB: What is your practice area and how did you choose it?
Mitch: I specialize in handling writs and appeals (mostly in the state courts) on behalf of cities and other public agencies. The cases I handle include election disputes, complaints of non-compliance with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), “takings” claims in the context of local land use regulation, challenges to local taxes, assessments and bonds, and constitutional challenges to city ordinances in a wide variety of settings — from billboards to newsracks, and from juvenile curfews to regulation of adult-oriented businesses.
CEB: What CEB book or program have you found most helpful in your practice and why?
Mitch: I have had successive editions of California Administrative Mandamus treatise on my desk for more than 30 years. I also frequently rely on Allan Browne’s California Business Litigation treatise, as well as Civil Appellate Practice.
CEB: Why do you choose to speak/write for CEB?
Mitch: I think lawyers have an obligation to participate in the development and refinement of the law in their areas of practice. Working on a CEB book is exhausting — because you need to make sure everything is absolutely, absolutely right. But it is highly satisfying, professionally, when the work is done and the book is published.
CEB: What do you like best and least about practicing law?
Mitch: I suppose what I like best about practicing law is that I know my areas of practice, and I know the judges and courts in which I practice, and I know that I and my firm have a reputation for candor and high-quality work. I like the intellectual challenge of constitutional law, particularly when the law is in a state of flux and development. I suppose what I like least about practicing law is dealing with an obnoxious opposing counsel at an 8:30 a.m. court appearance.
CEB: What is the best legal tip you ever received?
Mitch: Never discuss sensitive matters in an elevator or public restroom.
CEB: How do you think the practice of law will change in the next 15 years?
Mitch: I hope that the next 15 years will bring greater civility to the practice of law, especially in litigation. Much would be gained if we pause to reflect that our client’s interests will not be adversely affected if we grant opposing counsel an additional 30 days to respond to discovery, or if we agree to a continuance of a hearing that opposing counsel cannot attend because of a funeral or vacation. A great deal of energy in litigation seems to be devoted to aggravating opposing counsel, and the positive impact of all that effort on your client’s case is negligible.
CEB: What are the most interesting books you have read recently?
Mitch: Solar by Ian McEwan. Beautifully, beautifully written.
CEB: What is your contact information?
CEB: Thank you, Mitch and congratulations on your Spirit of CEB Award!
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