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A new year will bring new business cards for attorneys and lobbyists at one of California's top political law and advocacy firms.

Republican firm Nielsen, Merksamer, Parrinello, Mueller & Naylor, LLP will change its name to Nielsen, Merksamer, Parrinello, Gross & Leoni, LLP as of Jan. 1.

Partner Robert Naylor announced last week that he would be leaving his post at the end of the year to start his own law and lobbying firm, Robert W. Naylor Advocacy. Naylor has not publicly cited a reason for his departure, but called the move both "both amicable and mutually beneficial" in a letter circulated last week. The company also dropped from its name former partner John Mueller, who retired several years ago.

Added to the name are partners James C. Gross, who heads the firm's legislative advocacy team and expert on health care and local government issues, and Marguerite Mary Leoni, the firm's lead attorney on redistricting and federal Voting Rights Act.

"As experts in two of the most relevant areas in politics and government today, both Jim and Marguerite will continue to bring tremendous skill and resources to our firm and clients," senior partner Steve Merksamer said in a statement.

Jennie Unger Skelton, a former enforcement attorney at the California Fair Political Practices Commission, has joined the firm as a partner, according to a release announcing the name change.

The firm, commonly referred to as Nielsen Merksamer for short, is often in the news as a result of its representation of ballot measure campaigns, including defending Propositions 14, 20 and 22 on the 2010 primary and general election ballot. It has offices in Sacramento and Marin County.


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