Deputy legislative affairs secretary for Gov. Jerry Brown
Area of Practice: Capital Lawyering
Year Graduated: 1985
Brian Putler has served as deputy legislative secretary for California Governor Jerry brown since 2011. He was previously the director of legislative affairs at the California Franchise Tax Board.
Brian Putler, '85, knew two attorneys growing up. His uncle was a district attorney and a judge, and a neighbor on his paper route practiced tax law. They were both interesting people he admired and he wanted to be like them. So he chose law after graduating from UCLA and entered Pacific McGeorge School of Law.
Now a deputy legislative affairs secretary for Gov. Jerry Brown, Putler has had a more than two decades-long career spanning the public and private sectors. His legal work also has touched the nonprofit world, where he used his legal skills to help start an organization that opened the first licensed residential AIDS hospice in the Sacramento region about 18 years ago.
He started his career at a Sacramento law firm practicing business litigation. After six years representing developers, a California-based oil company and other big businesses, a recession hit, devastating law firms statewide. Putler applied to the state Franchise Tax Board.
"I thought going to work for the state would be a good safe place to sit out the recession," Putler says. "I ended up liking it and I stayed. I always observed that my friends that had been in private practice who left and went to work for the state tended to end up with interesting jobs doing things they really liked."
At the tax board, Putler represented the agency in tax appeals and assisted the attorney general in cases, among other responsibilities. Later, he became legislative affairs director for the board, a job he held about 12 years.
Putler joined the governor's office as one of several legislative deputies two years ago. He oversees legislation in the areas of taxes and issues relating to transportation and the state's retirement systems, CalPERS and CalSTRS.
"The practice in the governor's office is to really be part of the governor's team and be able to have firsthand knowledge and influence over significant policy matters for the state," he says.
In the 1990's, Putler lent his legal skills to starting a nonprofit venture, the AIDS Housing Alliance, which was trying to open a licensed residential AIDS hospice in Sacramento. Since then, the nonprofit has branched out into other kinds of housing for people living with AIDS.
Two decades ago, the AIDS epidemic was mostly affecting gay men. Putler had just come out of the closet and says he thought getting involved would be a good way to meet other gay professionals and help his community. He recruited several lawyer friends to serve on the board. They helped negotiate the many legal hurdles the nonprofit organization faced.
In addition to serving on McGeorge's Capital Center Advisory Board, Putler has been a past member of the Pacific McGeorge Alumni Association board and also its past president.