Joseph Byrne is a partner in the Los Angeles office of Best Best & Krieger and is a member of the firm’s Environmental Law & Natural Resources, Special Districts and Business practice groups. He provides general counsel services and advises both public and private sector clients on water law and government strategies, and has additional experience in general business law.
Joseph serves as general counsel to the Castaic Lake Water Agency, Municipal Water District of Orange County and the Rowland Water District, and he works closely with a number of other public entities, including the Lake Arrowhead Community Services District, City of Santa Maria and other cities and special districts. In his general counsel capacity he advises clients on a broad range of issues, including; contracts, opening meeting laws, the Public Records Act, the California Environmental Quality Act, conflicts of interest, personnel, public works bidding and contracts, and general compliance with state and federal laws. He regularly attends public agency meetings and works closely with elected board members.
In addition to his general counsel work, Joseph has considerable experience advising public and private clients on various issues related to water, including helping clients secure water supply, negotiating and drafting many types of water-related agreements, analyzing water rights, and advising on regulatory and policy issues. He worked on water policy issues at the State Capitol for a number of years and is an adjunct professor at the University of Southern California Gould School of Law where he teaches water law. He also taught a water policy class at the University of California, Los Angeles School of Public Policy.
In May 2010, Joseph was appointed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to serve on the California Water Commission, which works with the Department of Water Resources and has a number of statewide responsibilities related to water, including the development of regulations to distribute Proposition 1 money for water storage projects. He was re-appointed to a second term by Gov. Jerry Brown in July 2014 and a third term in 2017. He served as chairman of the Commission from 2012 until 2017. He is a frequent speaker and panelist at many water-related meetings and conferences throughout the state and has written about state water policy issues.
In addition to his public sector work, Joseph advises private sector clients on a wide variety of general business law issues, including general litigation, corporations, employment, contracts, licenses and general counsel work.
Prior to joining BB&K, Joseph worked in the Government Practice group at Mayer Brown, where he advised clients on transactional matters and gave strategic advice on state legislative and regulatory matters. He also worked at Burke, Williams & Sorensen for a number of years in its public law practice group. From 1998-2002, he worked in the California State Assembly, serving two years as counsel to the speaker of the California State Assembly and as the speaker’s chief policy consultant on water/environment and public safety. He also served as the speaker’s appointee to the California Court Reporters Board and the California Earthquake Authority.
He was born, raised and continues to lives in Los Angeles with his wife and two children. Joseph enjoys sports, spending time in the outdoors and learning about California history, especially California’s water history. He also speaks Spanish. He is admitted to the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California and to practice law in the State of California.
University of Notre Dame, J.D.
University of California, Berkeley