Press Releases Nov 08, 2018

Russell Behrens, 1936-2018

For Immediate Release: Nov. 8, 2018
Media Contact: Denise Nix • (213) 787-2552 •
It is with deep sadness that we announce the death of our partner and friend, Russell Behrens, on Nov. 2. He was 82.
“Russ was an amazing human being and a fantastic lawyer,” said Best Best & Krieger LLP Partner Alisha Winterswyk, a friend and colleague in the firm’s Irvine office and in the Environmental Law & Natural Resources practice group. “I’m so thankful that I had the great fortune to work with Russ and to get to know him.”
“When Russ joined BB&K in 2012 he had already been practicing for more than 50 years, but he brought us some key clients and stayed active for several years while transitioning them,” said Managing Partner Eric Garner. “He had a great sense of humor, a positive attitude and was a class act in every way.”
“Russ was a true gentleman. He really had a wonderful way about him. He was almost always positive, he had a great sense of humor, and he always made other people feel good because they could tell he cared,” said Partner Joseph Byrne, who served two of Russ’ largest water agency clients after Russ transitioned toward retirement. “As general counsel, it’s important to be able to listen to clients and help them problem-solve in practical ways, and Russ was great at it. He also knew how to keep things in perspective and he truly enjoyed what he did.”
During Russ’ 58-year legal career, he served many water agencies in Southern California. His first client was the Municipal Water District of Orange County and he was also general counsel to the former Castaic Lake Water Agency and the San Gorgonio Pass Water Agency. He also served as special counsel to Sweetwater Authority, Capistrano Beach Water District and the Hemet/San Jacinto Groundwater Association. Before joining BB&K, Russell was a principal in the firm of Kidman, Behrens & Tague (formerly McCormick, Kidman & Behrens) in Costa Mesa.

Winterswyk remembers when Russ joined BB&K he would often check in on her and took her “under his wing” — especially with marketing and client development. “He approached legal issues with an open mind and was always willing to consider a complete argument before dismissing it. I never felt intimidated when talking with Russ. Quite the opposite. I always felt like I could candidly share my assessment and advice, even if he might disagree with it.”
As Russ scaled back his practice, the two kept in touch, Winterswyk said. “He cared about me as a human and a lawyer. It really meant a lot to me.”

Russ graduated from University of Southern California School of Law in 1960. He earned his associate’s degree from Santa Ana College and later served the school as College Foundation director while supporting other educational institutions in various ways. After graduating from USC, he worked in the Orange County District Attorney’s Office before entering private practice. He served as a member of the State Bar of California Public Law Section Executive Committee, chairman of the Association of California Water Agencies Continuing Legal Education Committee and member of the William Gray American Inn of Court of Orange County.

Russ enjoyed woodworking and created furniture and other treasures for friends and family. Through the Nautical Museum, Russ built a wooden boat using only hand tools. He enjoyed fishing and was a longtime member of the Tuna Club of Avalon and served on the Board and as its president in 2003.

Russ was born in New York and moved with his family to Orange County when he was young.  He was devoted to his family and will be remembered by his loving wife, JoAnn Behrens; children, Dan Mooring, Steven Behrens, Deb Smith and Kristin Behrens; his granddaughters, Meghan Mulroney, Natalie Green and Devin Green and his brother, Tim Behrens.

On Dec. 1, the family will have a burial at sea, then a celebration of Russ’ life for all friends will be held from 1:30 p.m. until 3:30 p.m. at the Balboa Yacht Club, 1801 Bayside Dr., Corona Del Mar, CA 92625. In lieu of flowers, a donation to the Tuna Club Foundation in memory of Russ is appreciated. Address is: Box 526, Avalon, CA 90704


Best Best & Krieger LLP is a national law firm that focuses on environmental, business, education, municipal and telecommunications law for public agency and private clients. With more than 200 attorneys, the law firm has 10 offices nationwide, including Los Angeles, Sacramento, San Diego and Washington, D.C. For more information, visit or follow @BBKlaw on Twitter or @BestBestKrieger on Facebook.

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