Contact us today: (831) 424-1414

Make a Payment

In Memory of James D. Schwefel (1936 – 2020)

Our retired Partner, Jim Schwefel, died on May 22 after a period of declining health.  Jim was a brilliant lawyer, deeply steeped in the intellectual joy of the law itself; he specialized in business organizations, real estate, agriculture, and in the earlier part of his career was heavily involved in representing employers in union and labor disputes.  He mentored our younger lawyers, pushing us to be the best lawyers we could be, which resulted in a highly trained cadre of effective advocates for our firm’s clients.  

Jim represented some of the largest companies in Monterey County, helping them grow and guiding them through the risks and dangers facing business entrepreneurs in the modern era.  Jim’s depth of understanding of the business world combined with the breadth of his legal knowledge was a winning combination for his clients and for Noland Hamerly Etienne & Hoss.

For all his many legal accomplishments, Jim was modest and unassuming.  He never viewed his role as directive or controlling.  Jim’s clients were always the decision makers, based on his wise counsel and advice.  Jim was born in Butte, Montana and came to Salinas as a child when his father sought more opportunity for his young family in Salinas.  Jim grew up in “the Alisal,” often the first stopping place for migrants from other areas.  Jim’s very humble background enabled him to empathize with those in need; and his drive to succeed led him to acquire the best legal education available in the 1960’s to California’s rising professionals, by his schooling at Boalt Hall, Berkeley’s storied law school, after obtaining his undergraduate degrees from Hartnell College and the University of California at Berkeley.  He thrived in Boalt’s competitive environment and after graduation, had many opportunities to join large law firms in the City.  Instead he returned to his roots in the Salinas Valley, and integrated himself into the community in a material way.  Monterey County’s thriving entrepreneurial climate gave Jim an opportunity to participate in and contribute to the economic success of the region.

Jim’s support of the Monterey County community went way beyond his legal work.  Jim served on many nonprofit boards, including acting as a trustee of Hartnell Community College.  His term on that Board saw a great expansion of the College’s facilities and the enhancement of the College’s role in providing education to a broad swathe of the community.   

Jim was also elected a member of Board of the California Young Lawyers Association, an important statewide organization.  During the early 1970’s the CYLA was at the forefront of legal reforms and modernization of the State Bar of California, and he was very much a part of that movement.   Jim was a member of the State Bar of California; the American Bar Association, and was admitted to practice in the Federal District Court, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and the United States Supreme Court. 

For more than 50 years, Noland Hamerly had the great benefit of Jim’s wise and careful counsel.  He helped the firm grow from a small local organization to a regional leader on the Central Coast, handling complex and important clients and transactions.  We will greatly miss his modest and open presence among us, his wonderful sense of humor and his engagement in the world of the law and the life of the mind which he so well exemplified.