Practice Areas


    Eminent Domain (or “condemnation”) is the legal process where governmental entities (and certain others, such as public utilities) have legal authority to acquire private property provided it is for a public use. That legal authority derives from the federal and state Constitutions, and is supplanted by various statutes.

    Graham • Vaage has a long history of providing legal services in eminent domain projects brought by public entities, public utilities, and special districts, as well as in inverse condemnation matters where the government is contended to have exceeded its legal authority in the taking or damaging private property.

    Our clients receive exceptional representation by a very experienced and successful team of trial lawyers.

    The scope of our services in such matters includes ensuring that the exercise of governmental power is properly authorized, assisting in issues relating to pre-condemnation planning, relocation, highest and best use analysis, real and personal property valuation, severance damages, “special” benefits, and loss of goodwill, as well as with negotiated acquisitions, settlement negotiations, mediation, and trial by jury where that becomes necessary.

    The Firm’s work involves all types of property, including agricultural, industrial, residential, commercial, residential, and mixed-use properties, and special use properties such as churches and parks, and other unique properties not commonly found in the marketplace, along with fixtures and equipment, inventory, and all types of intangible property rights and interests, and goodwill. Examples of affected property rights include: real estate, buildings, furnishings, fixtures, equipment, relocation costs and benefits, zoning and other land use, subdivisions, oil rights, mineral rights, water rights, water storage, air and wind rights, solar rights, mitigation rights, environmental rights, surface rights, subsurface rights, copyright rights, trademark rights, and other intellectual property rights.

    Because of the wide breadth of our involvement, our many years of experience, and our history of success, an added value that we bring to our clients is a working knowledge of and often having had direct experience with many of the consultants and expert witnesses who are retained in these kinds of matters, in many different jurisdictions.


    The creditors’ bankruptcy and reorganization practice at Graham • Vaage is led by Susan Vaage, a senior trial attorney with many years of direct experience in this area.

    The firm represents creditors both in simple and in complex insolvency proceedings, including defense against debtor and trustee claims, preference and priority issues, as well as more routine matters such as relief from stay, non-dischargeability and cash collateral issues.

    Graham • Vaage offers extensive state court litigation experience in every aspect of financial institution litigation, including debt and collateral recovery matters, pre-judgment remedies, receiverships, judicial foreclosures and defense matters. The firm’s trial attorneys regularly defend major lender liability cases, and use their expertise to prevent or contain this type of exposure prior to and after the inception of litigation.

    Graham • Vaage’s trial attorneys are recognized for their exceptional courtroom skills, assertive approach, practical solutions, creative abilities, and client satisfaction with the results.

    The Firm’s practice ranges throughout California, with the largest concentration of cases in Los Angeles, Kern, Orange, Riverside, San Diego, Santa Barbera, San Bernardino and Ventura Counties, and in the Bay Area and Sacramento.


    Graham • Vaage represents clients in all matters related to construction law and litigation, including those involving negligent or defective construction of residential, commercial or municipal buildings. The Firm’s clients include developers, general contractors, architects, subcontractors, public entities, school districts and others involved in the construction of a project.

    Graham • Vaage’s experienced attorneys assist clients in all construction law matters, including:

    Construction defects
    Design defects
    Complex, multi unit claims
    Delay claims
    Surety claims
    Environmental remediation
    Toxic mold issues
    Product liability issues
    Property acquisition
    Land use matters
    Contract drafting, review and enforcement
    Builder’s liens and lien waivers
    Construction services
    Contract administration
    Negotiating ground leases
    Lease and sale document preparation
    Financing, including public and private

    Graham • Vaage’s practice ranges throughout California, with the largest concentration of cases in Los Angeles, Kern, Orange, Riverside, San Diego, San Bernardino and Ventura Counties, and in the Bay Area and Sacramento.


    Graham • Vaage has an established reputation for effective representation of its clients in all state courts, federal courts and bankruptcy courts.

    Susan L. Vaage, a senior trial lawyer, has more than 30 years of extensive experience related to her areas of expertise. As part of the business and legal communities’ recognition of the firm’s excellence, Ms. Vaage was requested to co-author substantive treatises in one of her predominant practice areas: Matthew Bender Practice Guide: California Debt Collection and Enforcement of Judgments, and California Forms of Jury Instructions, Ch. 42A, Fraudulent Conveyance Instructions. She has also acted as a court-appointed receiver in matters involving these subject areas.

    Graham • Vaage’s workout and loan restructuring abilities are of the highest quality. Our attorneys routinely assist clients with problem loan restructuring and workouts at all levels. The firm also has substantial experience both in the areas of law governing all types of collateral securing complex commercial credits, and in fashioning agreements that best preserve our clients’ rights in their collateral.

    The Firm routinely represents business entities in all manner of transactional and litigation matters, including contracts, purchase/sale agreements, lease transactions, collection and defense actions. We are routinely referred matters from other lawyers and law firms who do not have the expertise to enforce and collect on the judgments they have obtained.

    Our bankruptcy lawyers do not represent debtors, but only creditors, both in simple and in complex insolvency proceedings, including providing defenses against debtors’ and trustees’ claims, in preference and priority issues, and also both in routine and complex matters involving relief from automatic stay, non-dischargeability and cash collateral issues.

    The Firm also offers extensive state court litigation experience in every aspect of financial institution litigation, including debt and collateral recovery matters, prejudgment remedies, receiverships, and defense matters. Our trial attorneys regularly defend major lender liability cases, and provide their expertise to clients to prevent or contain this type of exposure.

    The members of this practice group routinely lecture to both attorneys and bankers, and have served on multiple Bar Association-related committees and organizations dealing with commercial and bankruptcy litigation.

    The firm is also recognized for its skill in successfully and efficiently representing business owners, officers and directors, and guarantors in litigation, loan workouts, negotiations with lenders and bankruptcy trustees, as well as providing client representation in areas such as contractual disputes, employment litigation, personal injury, and agency liability.

    Whenever resolving issues through the courts becomes necessary, our attorneys are recognized for their assertive approach, practical solutions, creative abilities, and successful results.


    Graham • Vaage has extensive experience dealing with general business and litigation matters pertaining to complex, substantive and unique business issues, property issues, and general damages. Our business advisory and litigation practice includes a wide variety of matters, and includes litigation in state and federal court involving:

    Real estate
    Land use planning and zoning
    Eminent domain
    Inverse condemnation
    Property leases, sales
    General Business Practice and advice
    Property rights
    Corporate Formation
    Construction defects
    Condominium disputes
    Homeowners’ associations
    Leasing disputes
    Water rights
    Investment analyses
    Commercial & industrial broker representation
    Land valuation
    Business valuation
    Intangible rights
    Internet issues
    Oil and natural gas
    Toxic waste and hazardous materials
    Wind power
    Solar power
    State and federal administrative regulatory proceedings, and
    Other substantive types of litigation.

    Over the years, the Firm has dealt both with non-litigation matters and litigation pertaining to a wide variety of complex, substantive and unique business and property issues, as well as with general damage claims and defenses.


    Land use planning, zoning and regulatory issues are another facet of Graham • Vaage’s practice, and are frequently interwoven into the firm’s other areas of practice. Graham • Vaage has extensive experience in all land use-related matters, including:

    Land use planning and permitting
    Land use entitlements
    Planning and zoning regulations
    Subdivisions and subdivision development
    Takings and damaging of property
    Permissible uses
    Inverse condemnation and eminent domain
    Development agreements
    Environmental Issues
    CEQA (California Environmental Quality Act)
    CERCLA (Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act)
    RCRA (Resource Conservation and Recovery Act)
    NEPA (National Environmental Policy Act)
    Brownfields matters
    The Polanco Act
    Property entitlements, and
    Other matters

    Graham • Vaage has an exceptional breadth and depth of experience involving both public entities and the private sector in matters involving land use planning and zoning and environmental litigation. The firm’s attorneys represent clients on matters before planning commissions, city councils, boards of supervisors, Caltrans, as well as other governmental bodies, including the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC), the Regional Water Quality Control Board (RWQCB), the South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD), and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA).

    Graham • Vaage’s clients include developers of housing subdivisions, industrial parks, commercial retail centers, office towers and condominium projects. In the public sector, the firm has a lengthy history of providing advisory services to public entities, public utilities, and special districts in the areas of land use planning and zoning and environmental matters.

    The Firm’s years of experience with both the private and public sectors enables it to create and implement public / private partnerships for our clients, assisting them in developing plans and programs directed at redeveloping and revitalizing geographic areas which are obsolete, damaged, contaminated or otherwise uneconomic and blighted.

    Graham • Vaage has assisted clients in analyzing and restructuring uses of property, obtained changes in permissible land uses, obtained tax and other economic incentives, grants and programs useful to the foundation of a successful project.

    In an acquisition and development context, Graham • Vaage assists real estate investors, lenders and developers in their dealings with public agencies in land use, environmental redevelopment, disposition and development agreements, tax sharing, bond financing, master planned communities and eminent domain matters.

    Graham • Vaage’s practice ranges throughout California, with the largest concentration of cases in Los Angeles, Kern, Orange, Riverside, San Diego, Santa Barbara, San Bernardino and Ventura Counties, and in the Bay Area and Sacramento.


    Graham • Vaage LLP has a unified team of experienced lawyers who understand the clients’ objectives, and strategically plan and implement the necessary legal work to obtain the desired result at a reasonable cost. In serving the clients’ needs, the ability to comprehend on a day-to-day basis the circumstances of each party assists the Firm’s lawyers in being effective problem-solvers, negotiators, facilitators, and where appropriate to best serve our clients’ interests, trial lawyers.

    Where litigation is necessary, we create and implement direct, effective, and hard-hitting court strategies, and impress that on the opposition from the outset. Our objective is to expeditiously resolve issues and cases.

    Graham • Vaage LLP’s known trial lawyer skills and reputation, and our willingness to go to trial when necessary, creates an environment that promotes opportunities for advantageous settlements outside of court.

    This strategic yet practical approach has been used with repeated success by our attorneys in a wide range of matters over many years of law practice.