Nossaman in infrastructure build out

The US law firm is beefing up its personnel and looking to broaden its infrastructure offering - co-chaired by Patrick Harder (pictured) - with airport and seaport legal advice. Nossaman is also adding people with energy infrastructure experience.

US law firm Nossaman is staffing up in a bid to expand its infrastructure practice, partner Patrick Harder told Infrastructure Investor.

Harder, co-chair of the infrastructure practice group in Los Angeles, said Nossaman is aiming to branch out from its “traditional” infrastructure business – surface transportation – and move into airport and seaport operation, as well as water and wastewater management.

“Overall, we feel bullish on infrastructure going into 2012,” Harder explained.

Meanwhile, Harder cited the “strategic” hiring of Wayne Corbett and John Smolen, who he credited with having long-standing legal experience with energy infrastructure. Corbett joined yesterday from full-service law firm Morrison & Forester, while Smolen started working at Nossaman last week after a stint with Washington, D.C., and London practice Hogan Lovells.

Nossaman has also hired Tae-Yeon Kim and Jaya Velamakanni, who are both relatively new to professional law. Kim is from Korea, and Harder said she and Velamakanni will handle the firm’s current business.

The firm has made opportunistic moves into port infrastructure, Harder said, citing the Port of Miami Tunnel project, a public-private partnership scheduled for completion in 2014, as well as the Gerald Desmond Bridge project, serving the Port of Long Beach, in California.

Harder said the Panama Canal expansion project, conceived to double the size of the canal, is a seminal event for port infrastructure that will have far-reaching impact on seaport transportation, allowing so-called “post-Panamax” ship traffic in the canal. Post-Panamax or 'New Panamax' is a term to describe a current vessel size, developed after the original construction of the Panama Canal and capable of holding more cargo.

The infrastructure group is buttressed by what Harder characterised as a “strong public policy practice” in Washington, D.C., where Nossaman installed Linda Morgan, a onetime cabinet member for President Bill Clinton. Harder said the collective public policy and environmental experience at the firm is crucial to its water business, adding Nossaman is involved in a dam decommissioning project in San Clemente, California.

Harder said Nossaman next wanted to add a lawyer in its Austin, Texas office.