Nuclear

We are on the verge of a nuclear energy renaissance. While specific predictions may differ, a few facts are indisputable. Worldwide demand for energy continues to increase. Shifting fuel prices most greatly impact the production of energy from more traditional sources and keep the planners awake at night. Governments around the world continue to debate acceptable levels of carbon emissions from these energy sources. Nuclear reactors already provide a large percentage of the world's electricity, but the vast majority of commercial nuclear reactors currently in operation are more than 15 years old.

There is little question that the level of activity, scrutiny and debate regarding nuclear power is on the rise. Whether in the planning stages of a new nuclear plant or overseeing the operations of an existing facility, having informed, savvy and experienced legal counsel is vital.

Duane Morris lawyers' experience in the nuclear arena ranges from the boardroom to the control room, from the nuclear island to the turbine floor. Our lawyers advise clients on all aspects of the legal and business issues surrounding the siting, financing, construction and operation of electric generation facilities, the regulation of distribution, sale and consumption, and issues concerning nuclear waste. Our experience includes work for producers, regulatory agencies, independent system operators and publicly owned utility companies. We represent electric utilities and their operating subsidiaries in regulatory proceedings before the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) and the Federal Courts of Appeals.

Our firm has a strong technological foundation, boasting dozens of attorneys with engineering degrees, including experienced nuclear engineers, and others who have worked directly in nuclear construction and in operating nuclear plants in a variety of technical, supervisory and managerial roles.

Duane Morris lawyers have been involved in legal issues regarding the construction and operation of many nuclear facilities, including:

  • Diablo Canyon
  • Hope Creek
  • Knolls Atomic Power Laboratory
  • Midland Nuclear Power Plant
  • Modifications and Additions Reactor Facility
  • Nine Mile II
  • Palisades
  • Peach Bottom
  • Perry
  • Salem I & II
  • Trojan

In addition to experience in plants and with utilities, Duane Morris attorneys have experience gained from serving as members of governmental regulatory agencies. One of the leaders of our Energy Practice Group helped establish the FERC Office of Enforcement and was its first director. Others among our attorneys have also served in various capacities at FERC. Furthermore, Duane Morris was integrally involved in the creation of the first Regional Transmission Organization approved by FERC, and has served as its counsel in a multitude of issues before FERC and the appellate courts. We also assist federal and state regulators and agencies in the formation and implementation of regulations and policymaking.

Related Services

As a global law firm, Duane Morris gives clients in the nuclear energy industry access to attorneys with experience in a wide variety of legal disciplines, including:

Construction

Duane Morris has a national Construction Group with extensive nuclear and fossil power experience. We have a strong local and national presence, with construction lawyers located in many of our offices around the United States. Accompanying our extensive geographic coverage, we provide a full range of legal services, including contracting with public and private entities, bid protests and award disputes, contract negotiating and drafting, creation of and advising with respect to public/private partnerships, complex contract claims and surety litigation, claims preparation and negotiation, contract defaults and terminations, alternative dispute resolution, dispute resolution boards, partnering, environmental risk management, surety bond and insurance issues, contractor licensing matters, and property damage claims. We have lawyers experienced with issues surrounding Construction and Operating Licenses (COL) and Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPC) contracts. Our attorneys have handled all of the issues that traditionally arise, whether they involve payment disputes, insurance coverage, allegations of defective design or construction, changed or unforeseen conditions, delays, disruptions, loss of productivity or similar claims.

Finance

Our lawyers have represented parties in connection with the financing of a variety of public power projects. Our experience includes some of the largest municipal power transactions in the United States as well as billion-dollar financings of energy facilities around the world. We have also provided tax advice and handled bond issues for utilities in connection with capital-raising initiatives.

Employment

Duane Morris' employment lawyers offer practical counseling designed to prevent potentially disruptive labor and employment disputes and have experience with the special labor issues involving construction projects, and specifically with project agreements for nuclear projects. We handle a wide variety of employment-related litigation and the full range of management labor relations matters. Our lawyers aggressively promote client interests before state and federal courts and in mediation and arbitration proceedings as well as before the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the Department of Labor, the federal Wage and Hour Division, the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission and all other state and federal agencies. On the labor relations side, our lawyers regularly defend employers against unfair labor practice charges filed with the National Labor Relations Board and represent clients in the collective bargaining process as well as in labor arbitration proceedings. We also have represented employers in defense of numerous whistleblower cases in the nuclear arena.

Intellectual Property

Our Intellectual Property team includes highly trained attorneys with multiple technical degrees and jury trial experience as well as former patent examiners and patent agents, former corporate patent counsel and professors of IP law. Our lawyers have experience with patent filings involving a wide variety of complex technologies, including reactor design and inventions related to both boiling water and pressurized water reactors. In addition to counsel in the U.S., we also coordinate with our international networks of law firms to secure and maintain patent protection throughout the world. When our IP attorneys enter a courtroom, they are adept at explaining complex technical issues in a straightforward manner and presenting our client's story to the judge and jurors in the most compelling way possible.

In addition, Duane Morris has national practice groups that can be called upon to represent clients with their needs regarding corporate, securities, and mergers and acquisitions issues, litigation and arbitration, real estate, environmental issues, international trade, tax, and business reorganization and financial restructuring.

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Diversity

"In my discussions with Duane Morris leaders, they frequently speak about how diversity within their firm has enabled them to better serve their diverse clients. They understand that investing in diversity is a wise business decision that positions them for the marketplace of the future."

Don Liu
Senior VP, General Counsel & Corporate Secretary
Xerox Corporation

At Duane Morris, achieving diversity is paradoxical. By supporting and celebrating the differences of our attorneys - and the individual strengths that they bring - our firm culture expands, fostering creative solutions for our clients. But diversity at Duane Morris does not mean that we have a certain number of diverse attorneys; true diversity means that it is no longer noteworthy to see diverse lawyers leading our practice groups or managing client relationships. Ascending to positions of leadership and greater responsibility and providing the highest levels of client service is simply what is expected of all our lawyers. Diversity is another strong asset that adds to our collective abilities to meet the needs of our clients.

Our vision of diversity at Duane Morris is to realize an environment in which our lawyers' outstanding qualities are not just measured by ethnicity, race, gender and sexual orientation, but more importantly, that our lawyers are remarkable as excellent attorneys above all else. Only then can we celebrate our differences while focusing on the common pursuit of legal excellence which everyone shares at Duane Morris.

To reach this goal, Duane Morris understands that the familiar diversity strategies and policies that most law firms have are needed. Without demanding results from such policies, most law firms are bound to fail in even achieving numerical hiring and retention goals. Duane Morris has been proactive and ambitious in its efforts to improve diversity at the firm, and has set deadlines for reaching the milestones which mark our progress. To create a more diverse law firm, Duane Morris is:

  • Committed to strategically increasing our diversity levels, which is currently at 10 percent.
  • Bringing together our Diversity Committee and our Hiring and Retention Committee to raise diversity as an important factor in our hiring decisions.
  • Dedicated to improving retention by building upon our monitoring and mentoring program for all diverse associates.

Combining new initiatives with our longstanding diversity efforts, Duane Morris has seen increasingly positive results. In the Minority Law Journal's annual diversity survey of the nation's largest 260 firms, Duane Morris continued to improve its regional and national ranking, rising to number 136 of all firms surveyed. Our strides in Philadelphia are encouraging; in a city known for both the racial diversity of its population and the lack thereof in its law firms, Duane Morris is one of only two law firms to exceed the national average of minority partners at all law firms. Additionally, Duane Morris leads all national law firms based in Philadelphia in the number of Latino partners. Nearly 30 percent of all of our attorneys are women, and more than 20 percent of our partners are women.

In our approach to diversity, progress in racial, gender and cultural diversity cannot be measured in numbers alone. Duane Morris has focused our diversity initiatives on both increasing the number of diverse associates and addressing the challenges diverse attorneys face in building lasting careers and rising to senior and leadership positions. While several of our key practice groups are led by diverse partners and female partners, Duane Morris endeavors to create a culture which will foster a deep pool of such attorneys who can then develop into the firm's future leaders. Duane Morris understands that simply hiring diverse associates will not change the diversity of the firm; Duane Morris is working to mentor and retain diverse associates so that our progress in racial, gender and cultural diversity is also reflected at the highest levels of leadership within the firm.

Our progress on gender diversity has been profound. We have no glass ceilings: women hold positions of leadership at all levels of management at the firm. Women lead a number of our key practice groups, including our Energy, Immigration and International practices, and serve on the firm's Executive Committee. The success of our female attorneys at Duane Morris has not gone unnoticed. Barbara Adams was chair of the firm's Finance Practice until her appointment by Pennsylvania Governor Edward Rendell to serve as General Counsel of the Commonwealth. In 2004, our longtime General Counsel, Gene E.K. Pratter, was approved by the United States Senate and is now a judge for the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

Our efforts to improve diversity extend beyond our firm's walls. The chair of our Diversity Committee, Nolan N. Atkinson, Jr., recognized the lack of diversity in Philadelphia's legal community and formed the Philadelphia Diversity Law Group. Nolan now serves as the chair of the organization, a consortium of 25 law firms and corporations that commits to employing at least one diverse first-year law student each as a summer associate. From this program, law students of diverse backgrounds gain access to what was once an exclusive legal community, and now have the opportunity to learn and develop their legal careers with experience at Philadelphia's top law firms.

In addition to our involvement in the Philadelphia area, Duane Morris has increased our presence at national conferences and events focused on diversity. We sponsor the Hispanic National Bar Association and its job fair. Duane Morris is also a longtime supporter and sponsor of the Equality Forum, a national gay and lesbian rights organization. Duane Morris continues to sponsor the Minority Corporate Counsel Association, and is active in other associations of diverse attorneys including: the Asian American Bar Association of the Delaware Valley; the Charles Houston Bar Association; Cuban Bar Association; Korean American Lawyers Association; National American Indian Housing Counsel and the National Bar Association.

The challenge of improving gender, ethnic and cultural diversity at Duane Morris is an ongoing effort that has the support of the entire firm. Duane Morris has been at the vanguard in supporting gender diversity throughout the firm beginning a generation ago. Our diversity programs are leading to similar success in improving racial and national origin diversity at Duane Morris. But even as we share these examples of Duane Morris attorneys and our involvement in numerous legal events, associations and programs for diversity, our hope is that such examples will no longer be necessary to mention in the future. We hope that through our efforts, and the efforts of other law firms, these stories become so common that they are no longer the remarkable accomplishments they are today, but simply routine aspects of the legal world tomorrow.