Russell J. Austin

Russell J. Austin

Attorney Profile

Top Rated Real Estate Attorney in Sacramento, CA

Murphy Austin Adams Schoenfeld LLP
 | 555 Capitol Mall, Suite 850
Sacramento, CA 95814
Phone: 916-446-2300
Fax: 916-329-3007
Selected To Super Lawyers: 2005 - 2020
Licensed Since: 1980
Practice Areas:
  • Real Estate: Business (70%),
  • Business/Corporate (30%)
    Attorney Profile

    Russell Austin has extensive experience in real estate and business law. He has planned, negotiated and documented a complete array of real property transactions and supporting documentation, including purchase and sale transactions, exchanges, syndications, partnership and LLC formations, and a wide variety of financing transactions for owners/developers, institutional and private lenders, conservation organizations and other non-profit organizations, and public agencies, including conservation transactions involving both fee acquisitions and conservation easements. Russell also has substantial experience in several aspects of real estate litigation, including complex foreclosure actions for lenders and borrowers.

    Russell was recognized as a Centennial Fellow in 2018 by the Sacramento County Bar Foundation for his “distinguished professional accomplishment and substantial civic involvement and philanthropy,” which has earned him a legacy as one of the “founding pillars of the Sacramento legal community.” He was selected in 2017 by the Sacramento County Bar Association as its Distinguished Attorney of the Year, awarded each year to the attorney who “through the practice of law, has made Sacramento a better place to live and work.”

    Russell is listed in the 1997 through 2020 editions of The Best Lawyers in America as one of the Sacramento area’s outstanding real estate attorneys and he was named Best Lawyers’ Sacramento Real Estate Lawyer of the Year in 2010. He is listed in the 2005 through 2020 editions of Northern California Super Lawyers and was recognized in the Top 100: Northern California Super Lawyers, 2016 through 2018, and in the Top 25: Sacramento Super Lawyers, 2015 through 2018 and again in 2020. Russell is named in Sacramento Business Journal’s 2013 through 2019 Best of the Bar List, which recognizes top local attorneys who have been nominated by their peers and vetted by a panel of their peers. He is listed in the 2015 through 2020 editions of Sacramento Magazine's Top Lawyers List. Since 1992, Russell has been rated “AV Preeminent” by Martindale-Hubbell. He leads the firm’s commercial real estate law team which was awarded “Tier One” rankings for practice excellence in the U.S. News – Best Lawyers “Best Law Firms” 2014 through 2020 reports.

    Russell has served as a Visiting Professor of Law at King Hall School of Law at the University of California, Davis, teaching Real Estate Finance, and as a Visiting Professor of Law at McGeorge School of Law in Sacramento, teaching a “practicum course” in Commercial Real Estate Transactions. He has also served as an Adjunct Professor in the graduate tax program at the McGeorge School of Law in Sacramento, and was an Instructor at Hastings College of the Law in San Francisco.

    Russell was a contributing editor for Real Estate Purchase and Sale Transactions and Organizing Corporations in California, published by the California Continuing Education of the Bar. He has been a frequent panel speaker and moderator at continuing education seminars on real estate law.

    Russell has been active in the Sacramento County Bar Association, has served as Chair of the Voluntary Legal Services Program and President of Legal Services of Northern California.  In 1992, Russell received a President’s Pro Bono Service award from the California State Bar and, in 1993, he received a Pro Bono Publico award from the American Bar Association. In 1994, Russell was recognized by the Sacramento County Bar Association as its Humanitarian of the Year.

    Russell has also been active in a number of community organizations and currently serves on the Emeritus Board of Trustees of the Sacramento Valley Conservancy. He was recognized by the Sacramento Metro Chamber of Commerce as its “Volunteer of the Year” for 2001.

    Upon graduation from law school in 1980, Russell joined the San Francisco firm of Marron Reid, LLP and in 1982, helped open its Sacramento office.  In 1999, Russell was one of the founding partners of Murphy Austin Adams Schoenfeld LLP, serving as its first Managing Partner from 1999 to 2001 and again from 2005 to 2007.

    Russell received his B.A., with highest honors, from the University of California Santa Barbara, his J.D. from University of California, Berkeley Boalt Hall School of Law, and is a member of Phi Beta Kappa and the Order of the Coif.

    About Russell Austin

    Admitted: 1980, California

    Professional Webpage:


    • Centennial Fellow of the Sacramento County Bar Foundation, awarded to “attorneys at the pinnacle of achievement who, through distinguished professional accomplishment and substantial civic involvement and philanthropy, have earned a legacy as founding pillars of the Sacramento legal community.” , 2018
    • Sacramento County Bar Association's Distinguished Attorney of the Year, awarded each year to the attorney who “through the practice of law, has made Sacramento a better place to live and work.” , 2017
    • Champion of Change for Saint John's Program for Real Change, awarded to those “who exemplify the core values of Saint John's: Love, Courage, Effort, Gratitude, Respect, Community, and Growth” and go “above and beyond to support the mission of Saint John's and the women and children working hard to break the cycle of homelessness, poverty, and dependence for good.” , 2017
    • Listed in The Best Lawyers in America, 1997 through 2020 Editions
    • Sacramento Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce Volunteer of the Year, 2001
    • California State Bar President's Pro Bono Service Award, 1992
    • Best Lawyers in America’s Sacramento Real Estate Lawyer of the Year, 2010
    • Named in the Sacramento Business Journal’s “Best of the Bar” list, 2013-2019
    • Sacramento County Bar Association Humanitarian of the Year, 1994
    • Business Volunteer of the Year, Business Volunteers for the Arts, 1991
    • Fellow, American Bar Foundation
    • Named in Sacramento Magazine's Top Lawyers, 2015-2020
    • American Bar Association Pro Bono Publico Award, 1993
    • AV® Preeminent™ Peer Review Rating from Martindale-Hubbell, 1992-Present

    Bar/Professional Activity:

    • State Bar of California

    Pro bono/Community Service:

    • UC Davis Medical Center Advisory Board Member (2020); KVIE Public Television, Board of Directors (2015-2018); MERISTEM, Board of Directors (2015-2018); Lambda Alpha International (Sacramento Chapter), Board of Directors (2013-2015) (Membership Committee Chair); The Sutter Club, Board of Directors (2010-2012); Graduate School of Management at the University of California, Davis, Council Member, Dean’s Advisory Council (2005-2008); Co-Chair of Flood Control Transition Team for Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson (2008-2009): Co-chaired volunteer team to brief incoming Mayor Johnson on flood control protection issues, status of current flood control improvement projects and make recommendations on possible actions to expedite completion of such improvements; Crocker Art Museum Association, Board of Directors (2001-2008), Chair of Building and Grounds Committee (2004-2008) (lead responsibility for negotiation and documentation of the agreements with the City of Sacramento and the design and constructions agreements for the Museum’s $100 million dollar expansion); Sacramento Valley Conservancy, Board of Directors (2002-2010), President (2004-2006), Vice President (2003-2004), Chair of Acquisitions Committee (2004-2010), focused on conservation transactions, preserving 4,000 acres of natural habitat located in the Cosumnes River/Deer Creek Watershed region, and the Elkhorn Basin Ranch in Yolo County.; Sacramento Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce, Board of Directors (2000-2003), Legal Counsel (1999); served on Executive Committee as Vice Chair of Community Development (2000-2003) and spearheaded Regional Arts Strategic Plan Task Force process and Co-Chaired team charged with implementing Task Force recommendations; chaired Blue Ribbon Task Force reporting on the Port of Sacramento; participated on Blue Ribbon Task Forces for reporting on funding for new River Cats baseball stadium and development of new sports/entertainment arena for Sacramento Kings; participated and led “issues” teams in numerous “Cap to Cap” and study mission visits to other cities; Sacramento Public Library Foundation, Board of Directors (1999-2002); California Museum for History, Women & the Arts (formerly known as the Golden State Museum), Board of Directors (1997-2000); Boalt Hall Alumni Association, Board of Directors (1997-2000); Legal Services Trust Fund Commission, Commission Member (1994-1997); Commission Chair (1997); Legal Services of Northern California, Board of Directors (1988-1994); President (1989-1993);Voluntary Legal Services of Northern California, Board of Directors (1986-1992); Chair (1988-1992); Business Volunteers for the Arts, President (1993-1994); Board of Directors (1988-1994); Sacramento Barristers Association (formerly known as Sacramento Young Lawyers Association), Board of Directors (1984-1986)
    • In 1992, Russell received a President’s Pro Bono Service award from the California State Bar and, in 1993, he received a Pro Bono Publico award from the American Bar Association. Russell has provided pro bono representation to organizations, including the Crocker Art Museum Foundation, The California Museum for History, Women and the Arts, B Street Theatre and Make-A-Wish Foundation of Northern California.

    Educational Background:

    • University of California, Berkeley School of Law, J.D., 1980, Order of the Coif
    • University of California, Santa Barbara, B.A., History, summa cum laude, 1974

    Articles about Russell J. Austin appearing in Super Lawyers

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    Office Location for Russell J. Austin

    555 Capitol Mall
    Suite 850
    Sacramento, CA 95814

    Russell J. Austin:

    Last Updated: 5/4/2020

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