Experience matters

Torres Law Group PLLC

Forward-thinking, client-focused legal counsel

Torres Law Group, PLLC is a leading political law firm in Arizona with a national portfolio of legal services that includes political, campaign finance, and employment law. The firm specializes in the formation and operation of political action committees, campaign finance, independent expenditure and c4 compliance. It also represents employees who have been wrongly terminated, especially those covered by whistleblower protections.

 

Political Law

Torres Law Group’s political law services focus on three general areas:

  • Advice on the formation and operation of political entities, including compliance with state and federal campaign finance law.
  • Litigation and appellate work on elections and voting rights
  • Legal support of lobbying efforts particularly around pro-labor legislation.

Formation/operation

Torres Law Group, PLLC advises every species of political committee in Arizona. Among its current and past clients are political parties, the state’s largest separate segregated funds, and every form of direct democracy committee: initiative, referendum, and recall. TLG provides clear, timely advice to decision makers on everything from what will disqualify a petition signature, to how to respond to a takedown letter, to when state and federal independent expenditure notices must be filed. The firm assists organizations in forming political committees and civic engagement focused 501(c)(3)s and 501(c)(4)s. TLG attorneys have served in a variety of roles—chief counsel for a state agency, assistant attorney general in the Solicitor General’s Office and candidate for statewide office—that allow the firm to offer a unique perspective on advice to its clients. The firm also offers monthly flat-fee billing, which importantly enables entities to budget for legal services and removes the incentive for committee staff to wait until an issue becomes a problem to seek advice.

Political Law Litigation

If individual workers have been the victim of wage theft, TLG can represent them in a lawsuit to recover wages through a variety of tools, including Fair Labor Standards Act claims and third-party beneficiary contract claims. TLG can also represent employees who have been wrongly terminated, especially those who are covered by whistleblower protection.

 

Labor Law Lobbying

In addition to political and election law, TLG prides itself on providing labor law services to Arizona’s trade unions. That includes providing advice on lobbying for pro-labor initiatives such as responsible contractor, apprentice utilization and paid sick leave ordinances and legislation.

Labor Law

Torres Law Group’s labor law services focus on three general areas:

  • Labor law services provided to the union, for the benefit of the union
  • Employment law work provided on behalf of individual union members
  • Government relations law that helps the local improve the environment in which it functions

Labor Law

Our consulting firm, Torres Consulting & Law Group, LLC, has recovered millions of dollars in wage theft for workers across the country when we discover non-signatory contractors failing to comply with Davis-Bacon and other prevailing wage laws. As such, TLG is uniquely positioned to attack cheating in federal court using the False Claims Act and other legal tools, particularly when a local has firsthand knowledge of contractors evading prevailing wage law. TLG understands the LMRDA and provides advice on compliance with Department of Labor regulations on union elections, including avoiding improper use of Facebook, Twitter and other social media tools. TLG can also assist your local in filing or responding to unfair labor practices charges, as well as disciplinary or contract interpretation arbitrations. TLG’s legal services will assist your local at any phase of an organizing campaign, whether mobilizing potential members through concerted activity, training salts, defending your right to picket, reviewing handbills, or pulling the trigger on recognition. TLG can also assist in negotiating a collective bargaining agreement, or even working with employees forming the initial 501(c)(5) organization.

Employment Law

If individual workers have been the victim of wage theft, TLG can represent them in a lawsuit to recover wages through a variety of tools, including Fair Labor Standards Act claims and third-party beneficiary contract claims. TLG can also represent employees who have been wrongly terminated, especially those who are covered by whistleblower protection.

Government Relations Law

TLG built its reputation advancing the cause of Arizona trade unions by strengthening their Political Action Committees and enhancing their Lobbying efforts at all levels of government. Thus, in addition to ensuring that your local and your members are protected under existing law, TLG stands ready to assist you in creating better laws and better working conditions for your members through lobbying and political action.

Staff

Jacqueline Mendez Soto

Associate Attorney

Jacqueline Mendez Soto’s diverse background allows her to provide legal services to Torres Law Group clients on a variety of matters. She represents clients on employment and labor matters, including employment discrimination and employee grievances. She also represents individuals in family and juvenile matters, including divorce, parenting plan agreements, adoptions, and guardianships.

Before joining TLG, Jacqueline served as in-house counsel of labor affairs for U-Haul International, Inc., which provided her with a corporate perspective on managing legal matters. Previously, Jacqueline was an associate in the labor and employment group of Snell & Wilmer, LLP, where she represented clients before the National Labor Relations Board and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Jacqueline has also practiced in family law, juvenile law and probate law fields. In family matters, she has represented clients in dissolution proceedings, parenting plan agreements, child support orders and modifications of parenting plans and child support orders. In juvenile matters, she represented individuals in private parental severance proceedings. She has also represented clients in private adoptions and adoptions involving the Department of Child Safety. In probate matters, Jacqueline is experienced in juvenile and dependent adult guardianship matters. She also advises clients on estate planning matters, including preparation of wills and trusts.

Upon completion of her legal studies, Jacqueline was honored to serve as a judicial law clerk at the Arizona Court of Appeals for now Justice Ann A. Scott Timmer of the Arizona Supreme Court. Prior to law school, Jacqueline was a field examiner for the National Labor Relations Board where she investigated unfair labor practices and facilitated representation elections between unions and employers.

Jacqueline has volunteered her time as a Court Appointed Special Advocate for the Maricopa County Superior Court, where she advocated on behalf of children in the foster care system. She also volunteers with the Tempe Community Action Agency I-HELP Homeless Shelter Program.

On a personal note, Jacqueline and her husband, Jaime, have three children. She enjoys weekend morning bike rides with her family and exploring new restaurants. Her pastimes include running, reading and relaxing.

Bar Admissions:
Arizona State Bar

Education:
J.D., Boston College Law School
B.S., Justice Studies, Arizona State University

Fluency:
English & Spanish

Publications:
“The Section 7 Limits On Workplace Communications Policies” The Practical Lawyer August 2005

Monse Vejar

Legal Secretary

Monse Vejar serves Torres Law Group’s Legal Secretary. Her experience in the judicial field has provided her with much insight into various types of cases. She brings years of knowledge supporting legal teams, having worked with different types of case filings. Monse previously served as a Deputy Clerk in the Maricopa County Clerk’s Office and as a Judicial Assistant for the Superior Court of Arizona in Maricopa County.

On a personal note, Monse enjoys spending time with her family and friends, hiking, traveling, and attending live music events.

Jim Barton

Partner

Partner Jim Barton a leading election lawyer in the State of Arizona. He has been the counsel of record on numerous important election law cases, including Arizona Free Enterprise v. Bennett, 131 S.Ct. 2806 (2011), before the United States Supreme Court. Barton was the lead attorney defending Proposition 127 against an onslaught of attacks culminating in a five-day trial and over 1000 subpoenaed trial witnesses. Ultimately, TLG successfully defended Proposition 127 at trial and before review by the Arizona Supreme Court.

In 2016, he successfully defended Arizonans for Fair Wages and Healthy Families (Comm. No. 2016-00474) against legal challenges to the initiative to raise Arizona’s minimum wage. The first was an attack on the registration of signature gatherers, Hitzeman v. Reagan, Case No. CV-16-0204-AP/EL (Ariz. Aug. 30, 2016). The second was an effort to invalidate the measure under the Single Subject, Separate Amendment, and Revenue Source provisions of the Arizona Constitution, Ariz. Chamber of Comm. & Indus. V. Kiley, Case No. CV-16-0314-SA (Ariz. Mar. 14, 2017).

Prior to the 2016 election cycle, TLG provided legal advice to the Protect Your Right to Vote Committee on referring HB 2305 to the voters. This advice covered matters such as signature collection and anticipating challenges to the measure’s position on the ballot. Importantly, the referendum’s position on the ballot was never challenged in court. Barton also successfully challenged a biased description of the Quality Education & Jobs Act proposed by the Arizona Legislative Council and defended the superior court decision before the Arizona Supreme Court. Tobin v. Rea, 231 Ariz. 189 (2013).

Before joining TLG, Barton served as an Arizona assistant attorney general, representing the secretary of state, Citizens Clean Election Commission and the Independent Redistricting Commission. His work was instrumental in drafting attorney general opinions involving campaign finance regulation. In that capacity, he argued before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals defending a favorable attorneys’ fees award in Nader v. Bennett, 407 Fed. Appx. 190 (9th Cir. 2010).

Barton has investigated allegations of campaign finance law violations and advised state agencies on laws regarding public records, open meetings, and conflicts of interest regarding public employees. He has also enforced compliance with court orders and findings related to campaign finance violations.

Before serving the state, Barton worked as an associate at the Phoenix law firm Perkins Coie Brown and Bain, focusing on political and construction law. While there, Barton successfully defended both candidates and initiative committees against challenges to their positions on the ballot. Early in his career, he clerked for Arizona Supreme Court Chief Justice Ruth McGregor and worked in Phoenix’s federal public defender’s office.

Early in his career, Barton clerked for Arizona Chief Justice Ruth McGregor. He earned his Juris Doctor from Arizona State University and his Bachelor of Arts in physics and philosophy from Northwestern University. Barton also served as a Submarine Warfare Office on board U.S.S. Billfish (SSN 676) and was qualified as a Senior Reactor Operator by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

On a personal note, Jim and his wife, Pat, have two adult children – James and Kate. Jim is a member of Chalice Christian Church and enjoys talking politics and theology, watching Kevin Smith movies and travelling.

Bar Admissions:
Arizona State Bar
U.S. Supreme Court
9th Circuit Court of Appeals
U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona

Education:
J.D., Arizona State University
B.A., Physics and Philosophy, Northwestern University

Key Cases:

Ariz. Free Enterprise v. Bennett, 131 S. Ct. 2806 (2011) – representing Clean Elections, defending matching funds

Chavez v. Chavez, Case No. CV2014-008793 (Ariz. Sup. Ct. 2014) – representing plaintiff, removing “Cesar Chavez” from the ballot

Tobin v. Rea, 231 Ariz. 189 (2013) – representing ballot measure committee, striking down Legislature’s description of the ballot measure

Ross v. Bennett, 228 Ariz. 174 (2011) – representing Secretary of State, defending recall election of Russell Pearce

Ariz. Chamber of Comm. & Indus. V. Kiley, 242 Ariz. 533, 399 P.3d 80 (2017)
Click here to watch the oral argument video (minute 28:30)

Nader v. Bennett, 407 Fed. Appx. 190 (9th Cir. 2010)
Click here to download and listen to the oral argument (minute 7:45)

Saman Golestan

Associate Attorney

Associate Saman Golestan helps Arizona working families via his practice areas of employment, wage and labor law. He provides legal work for TCLG’s compliance division in the fight to stop cheating contractors and provide fair wages to working families. He also advises clients on election and political law.

Before joining TLG, Saman’s work in Arizona included helping seriously injured individuals get needed care and protecting individual’s constitutional rights in cases where police officers acted beyond their legal authority. He also spent time working in Washington, D.C., at National Public Radio’s Office of General Counsel in the areas of First Amendment, regulatory and international law and for U.S. Rep. Kyrsten Sinema’s office, helping craft policies that put the needs of Arizonans first.

Saman earned his Juris Doctor from the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University. He also has two bachelor’s degrees in political science and journalism and mass communication from Arizona State University.

On a personal note, Saman enjoys traveling, taking road trips and, in particular, visiting important cultural and historical sites during his travels. At home, he enjoys spending time with his family and friends. Saman also enjoys swing dancing and is a bona-fide movie buff.

Bar Admissions:
Arizona State Bar
9th Circuit Court of Appeals

Education:
J.D., Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law, Arizona State University
B.S., Political Science, and Journalism and Mass Communication, Arizona State University

Fluency:
English & Farsi

Israel G. Torres

Managing Partner

Managing Partner Israel G. Torres represents clients in legal, regulatory and contractual matters, as well as lays the strategic and government-relations groundwork for TCLG’s clients.

As the former regulatory authority of Arizona’s construction industry from 2003 to 2006, Torres reviewed and decided thousands of residential and commercial construction complaints. He won wide recognition as a fair and respected regulator as the Director of the Arizona Registrar of Contractors (ROC). Additionally, he reformed the ROC’s mission and brought innovation and service enhancements to the state’s 52,000 licensed residential and commercial contractors, while developing first-time consumer initiatives to protect homeowners and seniors statewide.

Through partnerships with neighborhoods, senior groups, industry associations and organized labor, Torres made unprecedented strides in consumer advocacy and protecting Arizona seniors and homeowners from construction fraud. He spearheaded major new efficiencies for Arizona’s construction industry, focusing on small business contractors and online services, and took an unparalleled aggressive stance on unlicensed contracting and the crimes against Arizonans that it precipitates.

Torres won the 2006 Arizona Democratic Primary and was elected as the Democratic nominee for Arizona’s second highest constitutional office – Arizona Secretary of State.

He has served on the boards of directors for the Children’s Action Alliance, Arizona Consumers’ Council and the Arizona Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, and was president of the National Association of State Contractor Licensing Agencies. He also has provided his time and leadership to Friendly House and Chris-Town YMCA. Torres has served as an Adjunct Professor in the Maricopa Community College System and is a frequent speaker at seminars and conferences nationwide.

Torres is a member of the Arizona Bar and is licensed to practice law in Arizona. He also served as a Zoning Adjustment Hearing Officer for the City of Phoenix and he has official mediation training from the University of New Mexico (UNM) School of Law. His educational background includes a Juris Doctor from the UNM School of Law and a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Arizona State University.

On a personal note, Israel spends most of his time with his two children. He cheers on his hometown Arizona Cardinals, but is a life-long Chargers fan. He is still hoping the Bolts will win a Super Bowl within his lifetime! Israel is also an avid outdoorsman–whether it be mountain biking, hiking, boating, kayaking, skiing, camping, hunting, geocaching, or riding his Polaris, he will likely be enjoying the Arizona outdoors!

Bar Admissions:
Arizona State Bar

Education:
J.D., University of New Mexico School of Law
B.A., Political Science, Arizona State University

Fluency:
English & Spanish