Award-Winning Eminent Domain Attorney Joins Wendel Rosen

Wendel Rosen LLP, the largest law firm in the East Bay representing businesses throughout the country, announced that Robin Thornton joined the firm as Partner on November 9.

“Robin is one of the leading eminent domain and public agency attorneys in the region,” said Wendel Rosen’s Managing Partner, Daniel Rapaport. “She is highly respected and joins the firm with a vast portfolio of experience in condemnation.”

Thornton has been recognized as a Super Lawyers Rising Star for seven consecutive years. She is best known for her representation in the Richmond Refinery case, the second longest assessment appeal in California. Additionally, she has worked on mediations, arbitrations, court and jury trials in Solano and Contra Costa Counties. Notable public projects include the North Connector in Solano County, Caltrans Truck Scale project in Cordelia and the State Route 4 Bypass in Brentwood and Oakley.

“I enjoy eminent domain law because it is tangible and you can see the effects everywhere, from roadways built to projects preserved,” Thornton said. “Most public projects are affected by eminent domain and the desire to acquire property for public use. My ultimate goal is to see that the process is fair — that the property owner is justly compensated and that the entity isn’t paying more than a just price for the land.”

In the time of COVID-19, Thornton anticipates a shift in projects. “During a period of recession, there is usually a focus on infrastructure improvement and putting people to work,” Thornton said. “However, those projects may look different now. People are working from home, and there has been an exodus to the suburbs. We may see an increased need for utility development to bring high-speed internet to residential areas or roadway improvement projects in outlying cities. Additionally, we’re monitoring the effects of the pandemic on market value calculations.”

Thornton will join Wendel Rosen’s Eminent Domain practice group, working alongside influential attorneys in Land Use, Public Agency, Litigation and Transportation Agencies. The team will continue work in San Francisco, East Bay and Silicon Valley, including regions that feed into San Jose.

Wendel Rosen’s seasoned Eminent Domain practice group has litigated numerous complex condemnation actions on behalf of both public and private entities and private landowners. Firm attorneys have tried cases involving commercial and residential property, regional shopping centers, agricultural land and underground pipelines.

The team has represented a large Bay Area city acquiring property interests in a series of matters involving complex project and environmental challenges, nuanced valuation issues and short funding deadlines. We have counseled multinational corporations and landowners in successful negotiations with condemning agencies, worked to secure 75 parcels of land for a project on a six-month timeline, and defeated a lawsuit to stop funding for a major public transportation project in the South Bay.

We believe in a proactive approach, counseling clients prior to litigation about relocation and notice issues, adequacy of appraisals, prelitigation access, sufficiency of project-related environmental review and similar issues. Wendel attorneys work extensively with right-of-way professionals, appraisers and other experts to ensure the best outcome for all parties involved.

“It’s all about balance,” Thornton said. “The ability to take private property is a huge power. However, it is the reason we are able to operate as a modern society with a network of roads and public facilities.”

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