Trusted. Experienced. Advocates.

At Bergin, Frakes, Smalley & Oberholtzer, we put more than 50 years of experience in real estate and development, commercial transactions, and civil litigation to work for you. Providing trusted, reliable counsel, our attorneys have the knowledge and commitment to help you accomplish your goals and protect your interests. BFSO lawyers are committed to responsive, timely and strategic advice when developing solutions to your legal issues. When you hire BFSO, you can count on experienced Arizona-based advocates who are committed to your success.

Practice Areas


Brian M. Bergin

Highly regarded as one of Arizona’s most effective civil litigators, Brian has represented individuals, insurers, banks, small and large businesses, governments and public servants in his over 20 years of practice. He advises clients through every phase of conflict resolution, from pre-litigation negotiations, to bench and jury trials in state and federal courts and through the appeal process. He advocates client cases before various governmental agencies in administrative hearings and frequently guides clients through arbitration, mediation and other alternative dispute resolution proceedings. Brian is admitted to practice in the courts of Arizona and Nevada, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals and the United States Supreme Court. He is a recipient of the Martindale-Hubbell Service’s rating of “AV Preeminent”, the highest possible rating for both legal ability and ethical standards.


  • J.D., Cum Laude, from Arizona State University College of Law, where he was Articles Editor of the ASU Law Journal and a Pedrick Scholar
  • Bachelor of Science Degree in Finance and Real Estate from the University of Arizona


  • Member of the Board of Directors of the Arizona Association of Defense Counsel
  • Member of the Defense Research Institute
  • Former member of the Board of Directors of the Maricopa County Bar Association and 1st Way of Maricopa County, Inc.
  • Affiliated Attorney with the Alliance Defending Freedom

Ken Frakes

Ken focuses on commercial disputes arising out of contract claims and commercial torts, including claims related to professional liability, construction law, partnership disputes, insurance defense, and collections. He also has developed a constitutional practice defending civil rights claims, federal preemption of state law, and election law. Ken has participated in every aspect of the process: pre-litigation dispute resolution, mediations and arbitrations, administrative agencies, bench and jury trials in state court and federal courts, appellate work in at the Arizona Court of Appeals and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, and filed an Amicus brief in the United States Supreme Court. Ken is also well versed in issues related to raw land development.

Ken’s approach is business-minded and solutions oriented. Not only do his clients benefit from strong advocacy skills that he developed over years of litigation, but they also benefit from sound business advice, which is grounded in his experience as the former general counsel to a large land investment company – where he handled hundreds of millions of dollars in real estate transactions, managed several business organizations and partnerships, and dealt with commercial issues that confront business people on a daily basis.


  • J.D. from Arizona State University
  • Master’s degree in Philosophy from Tufts University
  • Bachelor Degree from the University of Arizona


  • Vice Chair, The Ronan Thompson Foundation
  • Former Executive Counsel Member of the Boys & Girls Club of Metropolitan Phoenix
  • Served on Governor Napolitano’s Council for Small Business
  • Former Board Member of the University of Arizona Hispanic Alumni Association
  • Former Precinct Committee Person for District 11, Maricopa County
  • Former Public Member of the Enforcement Advisory Committee of the Arizona State Board of Technical Registration

Michael Smalley

Mike has handled a variety of transactional real estate, tax and finance matters in Arizona and California. He has represented hundreds of businesses and individuals with respect to the legal, tax and financial consequences of entering contractual relationships, negotiation and drafting of both simple and complex contracts for the acquisition and disposition of real property, commercial projects and business assets, along with negotiation and drafting of both ground and retail leases on behalf of tenants and landlords. Mike has become a trusted advisor to his corporate clients on issues involving corporate governance and structure, and has effectively guided his clients through the state, local and federal tax pitfalls inherent in any operational decision. In addition, Mike has represented business owners and individuals, as well as local and national lenders in a variety of financing transactions, including workouts and modifications, traditional and hard money lending, loan refinance and assumption, along with renewable energy and transportation infrastructure financing.


  • J.D. 2000, LL.M. Taxation 2001, University of San Diego School of Law, San Diego, California
  • Bachelor of Arts Degree, Political Science, University of California San Diego - La Jolla, California


  • Member of the Board of Managers for the Scottsdale/Paradise Valley YMCA

Carolyn Oberholtzer

Carolyn practices in the fields of land use and municipal law, and handles zoning, due diligence, development agreements and regulatory issues within municipalities and counties throughout the state. Carolyn served as Assistant City/Town Attorney for Avondale and Fountain Hills, Arizona from 2002-2004. Since her time with the municipalities, she has handled the rezoning of thousands of acres spanning many jurisdictions – including the negotiation of complex pre-annexation development and incentive agreements and the creation of special taxing districts to finance project infrastructure – for some of the largest master-planned communities and commercial projects in the state.

A third-generation Arizonan from Tucson, Carolyn is committed to the local community through several charitable organizations and is an avid University of Arizona basketball fan.


  • J.D. from Arizona State University College of Law, where she was a Pedrick Scholar
  • Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Southern California, where she graduated from the Annenberg School of Communications with honors


  • Secretary of the Board of Directors for Valley Partnership, a local development advocacy association
  • Urban Land Institute, Membership Committee, Women’s Leadership Initiative Steering Committee, and Urban Plan volunteer
  • Secretary of the Board and Past Chair, The Ronan Thompson Foundation, a public charity devoted to pediatric cancer research and awareness
  • Blue Blazer Squadron Volunteer, supporting the men, women and families of Luke Air Force Base
  • 2012 Class of Honorary Commanders at Luke Air Force Base

Donna Catalfio

Donna has over a decade of experience assisting clients that range from start-ups to Fortune 500 companies with both litigation and transactional needs. Her practice has focused on all areas of intellectual property, including trademarks, patents, copyrights and trade secrets. She has litigated intellectual property disputes in both state and federal courts all over the country, as well as before the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board. She also has substantial experience both prosecuting and defending commercial disputes that involve issues of breach of contract, restrictive covenants, unfair competition, cybersquatting and false advertising.

Donna routinely counsels clients on intellectual property protection and manages intellectual property portfolios. She provides freedom to operate and clearance opinions for clients seeking to avoid claims of intellectual property infringement, and files and secures federal trademark registrations. Donna has significant experience negotiating and drafting all forms of contracts and commercial agreements, including licenses, master services agreements, software as a service agreements, manufacturing agreements, supply agreements, distribution agreements, vendor and professional services agreements, and development agreements. Her broad background in providing legal services to businesses also includes counseling clients on compliance with advertising regulations, particularly as they relate to social media, in addition to the application of federal data protection and privacy laws and the laws of all 50 states to her clients’ business practices.


  • J.D., Magna Cum Laude, from Arizona State University College of Law, where she graduated at the top of her class, served on the ASU Law Journal, and received awards including Pedrick Scholar, Order of the Coif, and the John S. Armstrong Award
  • Bachelor of Science Degree in Chemical Engineering, with a double minor in Chemistry and Environmental Engineering, from Louisiana State University, graduating with honors


  • Former Chairman, Vice Chairman, Secretary and Member of the Board of Directors of Valley Youth Theatre, Phoenix, Arizona

Laura Markham

Laura Markham handles a variety of legal matters at BFSO Law, including environmental, land use, transactional and litigation. Prior to joining BFSO, Laura served as a legal extern at the Arizona Attorney General's Office and at the Arizona Department of Water Resources, and served as an Energy Law research assistant to Professor Kris Mayes.


  • J.D. from Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University where she was Executive Moot Court Board Internal Competitions Chair, President of the Environmental Law Society and Vice President of the Corporate and Business Law Society
  • Bachelor of Science with honors from California State Polytechnic University, San Luis Obispo


  • Urban Land Institute Member
  • Valley Partnership Member