Billboard law is a unique practice area. The history of out of home advertising and the existence of billboards has traveled a long and winding road beginning with what some recall as the wide-open unregulated way to what now seems like a roadblock at every turn. From a real estate perspective, building, maintaining and operating a billboard on private or public property can be quite complex and involve a great deal of red tape. There are local, state and federal laws to be considered and jurisdictional agencies to be contended with. In many cases, local politics also play a role, as well as working with local planning departments, neighborhood commissions and city councils.
There are not many law firms in California that practice billboard law and women in the practice area are certainly outnumbered by their male counterparts. Hamlin Cody has specialized in billboard law for nearly 40 years and Marnie Cody has been a driving force for over 30 years.
First joining Richard in 1988 as a law clerk while concurrently studying at Loyola Law School, Marnie’s experience in billboard law began with work on an appellate case for the firm’s then client, Foster & Kleiser. Admitted to practice in 1990, Marnie took on cases and worked with clients on matters opposite the California Department of Transportation involving various sections of the California Outdoor Advertising Act and California Code of Regulations. Since then, Marnie has seen a lot of changes in the industry, both good and bad.
Marnie’s experience is unique and vast. She has represented outdoor advertising companies, real estate developers, property owners and local cities in a variety of legal affairs including eminent domain and inverse condemnation, land use matters, due diligence, feasibility studies, real and personal property transactions and the list continues.
Marnie says she really enjoys practicing law in the out-of-home industry. It is rarely the same case twice and there are so many challenges that make the practice fun and rewarding. Marnie recollects that early on, working in the industry sometimes felt like breaking into an “old boys’ network.” But even that has lent to the excitement of the practice—to “successfully succeed to stand out in a sea of extraordinary gentlemen.”
Practicing billboard law requires a level of professionalism. Marnie’s and Richard’s reputation speaks for itself. Together, they have the experience and skills to handle the complexities of this often imprecise area of law. They love what they do, enjoy being lawyers and appreciate the opportunity and responsibility of being their client’s trusted advisors. They share common goals to build lasting relationships and make a meaningful difference to each one of their clients.