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Getting Back to Their Roots

At Parks & Solar, LLP, plain, old-fashioned hard work plus resourceful thinking yields outstanding results, say both founding partners.
“I think we work very hard and I’m sure you hear that all the time, but in our case it’s actually true. We really put 100 percent of what we have in every case. In every case we take to trial or every deal we’re trying to close or every transaction we’re doing. I think that makes a big difference. These are things that you hear all the time, but we really care about our clients,” says Robert Parks.
Founded in June, 2017, the San Diego firm has earned an admirable list of high-profile clients, including Fortune 500 companies to small businesses, that belies the firm’s boutique size: Chicken of the Sea International; Thai Union North America; FCF Fishery Company, Ltd.; South Pacific Tuna Corporation; Clipper Oil; Trader Joe’s; the City of Carlsbad; the Carlsbad Municipal Water District; the County of San Diego; IDE Americas, Inc.; I.D.E. Technologies, Ltd.; WaterMark Resource Development, Inc.; D.F. Stauffer Biscuit Company; US Pet Nutrition and numerous other real estate developers, consumer goods manufacturers, construction contractors, owners of commercial tuna purse seine fishing vessels, water resource developers and individuals in civil litigation and class action lawsuits and commercial and business transactions.
Laughing as he speaks, Keith Solar adds, “And I think I can safely say I am one of the only attorneys in the area who has appeared before the High Court of American Samoa.”

Parks and Solar employs two partners, two of counsel, two associates, two paralegals, three on staff, and one administrator. Practice areas include real estate, business, water-related transactions, consumer law, civil and commercial litigation, bankruptcy including debtor/creditor, and family law. Typical clients fall into the broad categories of all companies in the supply chain of tuna (vessel owners, transhippers/ middlemen, canneries), desalination companies, Proposition 65 matters, general civil litigation, business transactions, and high net worth marital dissolution.
“Hard work is the key. Because of our size, it’s not like we’re the guys people think of first. If you look at bringing in business— it’s like a football game, the second that ball hits the ground, I’m on it. It’s mine. If there’s a piece of business or a piece of litigation that’s available, and it’s something we can do, I go for it. Bob goes for it. We’re both that way. Nobody is going to outwork us.”

Moving West, Work Ethic in Hand

Parks and Solar grew up in the hard-working environment of Chicago. They met in 1985 while working as associates for a major international law firm with a regional office in San Diego. The two saw in each other a potential partner with the same work ethic, drive and ability to start a new firm and see it succeed.
They left another national firm to form Parks & Solar, LLP. Solar says, “We were both lawyers in the local office. They were a fine firm, but their headquarters was 3,000 miles away and I don’t think they really understood what it was like to practice law in California because it really is different. I had been there ten years and after a decade I just got tired of fighting the bureaucracy and it was time to do our own thing. It was time to get back to our roots.”

The transition was easy, which they found a pleasant surprise. One counsel, one associate, a paralegal, two staff and their administrator, all from their previous firm, joined in the move and all their clients stayed with them.
“We didn’t have any difficult times getting started like you normally would. We had really good clients for our size, which is unusual. We had a really good mix of individual and institutional clients. They’re great clients. They’re good to work with. We couldn’t have asked for a better transition,” Solar says.
They found in each other complementing skills and attitudes. Solar is recognized as a creative person who can easily think out of the box. Parks’ background in civil litigation provides a balance. Parks says, “There are two pieces to practicing law in my mind—one’s transactions and one is litigation. When you have both engines running at a law firm, you have a lot more to offer.”
Their teamwork has built a good track record of results for clients in business transactions and in the courtroom. “There are a select number of law firms that have done the big deals or handled the truly big cases and have done them successfully. We are one of the firms that do it. I don’t know if Keith or I could rattle off the number of big cases and big deals we have done over the years. It’s really quite impressive, but what’s more important is that we have obtained good results. That’s hard to do on a consistent basis and we’ve done it. We have successfully tried some extremely complex and difficult cases and Keith has done some extremely large deals that he has managed to close because he thinks outside the box.”
One of the philosophies that keeps the firm growing is a commitment to teamwork. “We value our employees. There’s no real egomaniac at this law firm. Everybody is treated the same and with respect. When we represent a client, everybody on the team is valued regardless of his or her role. We let all of our clients know that our work is a product of hard work and teamwork,” Solar says.
Their management philosophy is to hire the best people and allow them to do the work. Says Solar, “We’re blessed with a really good administrator, Carole Pierce, who handles all non-legal business for us. We really don’t need to do much that way. We’re really lucky. To the extent we need to get involved, we’re pretty pragmatic guys. Again, that goes back to our mid-western values. We’re straight shooters. We deal with challenges as they arise. If the employees need input, we provide it. We resolve an issue and we move on. We don’t let things fester and we don’t ignore things.”
Parks says, “We believe that if the firm does well, everybody does well. This is not a situation where people are working for Bob or Keith. It’s not a situation where if we do well everybody else does okay. If we do well, everybody does well.”

Fishing for Clients Lands a Big One

Solar notes that San Diego birthed the U.S. tuna industry and there were still vestiges of it here when he began practicing law in 1985. A partner at his firm represented a couple of commercial tuna boat owners and he regularly handled their legal work. During that process he met Dave Burney, then the president of the U.S. Tuna Foundation, and began doing his legal work, which led him to locations around the world, such as Papua New Guinea, the Marshall Islands, Taiwan and American Samoa. The business relationship Parks and Solar enjoy today naturally grew from that experience.
An area of specialty in the water and related industries includes desalination. The City of Carlsbad was the host city for the plant proposed by Poseidon Resources. The city selected Solar to represent it after interviewing numerous other attorneys. Today, the plant delivers 50 million gallons per day of desalinated seawater to San Diego County and is the largest desalination plant in the Western Hemisphere.

“They told me it would be a two-year gig and that the plant would be producing water in two years. The process took 15 years. Everything that could possibly happen to that plant happened. There were 16 different lawsuits and a lot of agreements.” The county water authority ultimately agreed to buy the entire output of the plant. Along the way Solar picked up Israeli Desalination Engineers (IDE), which designed and operates the plant, as a client. Parks and Solar now does pretty much all of their work for the plant and in the United States. Solar’s expertise in desalination also has taken him around the world. He has visited his client IDE’s headquarters in Israel. Solar also recently presented a paper at the International Desalination Association World Congress held in Dubai. Last year, he did the same in Valencia, Spain.
Another stable and growing practice area is in the area of high net worth family law. “At this juncture, we are probably one of the most knowledgeable firms in San Diego on the issue of equitable apportionment of the value of business interests in family law cases. It’s a very big and trending area of the law in California. We have successfully tried two of the largest cases in San Diego dealing with this concept including the landmark case In Re Marriage of Duncan. We are one of the go-to firms in this area of the law,” Parks says.
Stability isn’t only an asset for the firm; it is an asset for their clients. Solar says, “I think we are uniquely positioned. It’s not like we’re going to depend on real estate which is going to go boom or bust. Or internet work which is boom or bust or anything like that. People are always going to get divorced, or need water, or any number of things we’re geared up to handle. I mean, when the economy gets bad everybody can afford 99 cents for a can of tuna. It’s tough on the tuna companies because it’s a very low margin business, but they aren’t going away. And neither are we.”

Looking Ahead

The stability, their teamwork and client base provide a strong foundation for future growth. Solar says, “People are always going to need water. If anything, that’s going to become more prevalent. A lot of people say the next war is going to be fought over water. That’s probably not going to happen in California, but we’re not immune to shortages here. And people always are going to buy a can of tuna. People are always going to separate and fight over who owns what. The high net worth people are just as vulnerable as anybody else,” Solar says.
Parks says that more and more people are becoming aware of the need for environmental conservation, sustainability, and consumer protection laws.

“We have a number of cases, a number of practice areas we work in where those types of things tend to be growing areas at least in terms of litigation. We do a lot of defense work in that area, including class action consumer law defense and Proposition 65 defense work. We are one of the few firms in San Diego that handle Proposition 65 cases, including compliance work and defense of notices of violation. We are also one of the few firms that handle litigation in all phases of the supply chain for consumer goods, from raw materials to retail shelves. We have handled everything from breach of contract to class action to bet the farm cases. We’re stable now and in the future. And our clients know it.”
The partners also see a trend in law toward more transactions and litigation regarding environmental issues. Although not working in that area now, they also foresee the possibility for work in the cannabis and CBD industries.
Parks and Solar plans on growing organically as the firm’s needs require. Recently, two well-known certified family law specialists—Sandra Mayberry and Raelynn Stattner—joined the firm. “They complement my practice, and we’re confident they will be great additions. We would like to continue to develop our niche areas by growing with our clients and expanding our work to similar companies and clients. In short, we plan to ‘Keep on keepin’ on,’” Parks says.

Parks & Solar, LLP
501 West Broadway, Suite 1540
San Diego, CA 92101
(619) 501-2301

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