O.C. Building Industry Head Returning to Law


Christine Diemer Iger, longtime chief executive of the Orange County Building Industry Assn., said Monday that she will resign next month to join the influential law firm of Manatt, Phelps & Phillips.

Diemer Iger, who has headed the 1,000-member trade group since 1989, will advise clients on government relations and global trade out of the Los Angeles firm's new office in Orange County, scheduled to open by September.

Name partner Thomas D. Phelps, former Assembly Republican leader Scott Baugh, who joined the firm this year, and three other lawyers will work at the new office, which will be in Irvine or Newport Beach.

Politically, the law firm is more known for its work with Democrats. Name partner Charles T. Manatt is a former Democratic National Committee chairman and former U.S. ambassador to the Dominican Republic.

Manatt Phelps also has a strong background in handling legal matters in such areas as real estate, high tech, health care and financial services--all growth areas for Orange County, said Paul Irving, the law firm's managing partner. He said the firm expects its Orange County office to grow to 50 lawyers.

Diemer Iger ran the state Department of Housing and Community Development for three years during the George Deukmejian administration. She was also a deputy secretary of the state Business, Transportation and Housing Agency for three years and a deputy attorney general for two years.

In Orange County, Diemer Iger used her background as a land-use lawyer to advocate for improved freeways and new toll-roads. More recently, she has worked on infrastructure problems facing local schools.

"As a result of her leadership, the influence of the [group] has expanded well beyond the issue of housing, becoming a key player on a wide variety of issues affecting Orange County residents," said Lake Forest City Councilman Richard T. Dixon, who also is president of the Orange County League of Cities.

Lynne Fishel, the trade group's deputy director, will replace Diemer Iger until a successor is found.

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