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Blog: Opinions & Observations

Why Do Banks Require Bank Counsel On Some Commercial Loans? - June 2016

June 24, 2016

I have been representing both borrowers and lenders on commercial transactions for over 30 years and I have frequently encountered this question from borrowers: Why does the bank need its own attorney in the transaction when the borrower is represented by counsel? Implicit in this question is the truism: Borrowers do not like to pay the legal fees of their own lawyer and they certainly don't like to also have to pay legal fees for the bank's attorney. The following are some...

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Environmental Law: The Supreme Court’s Hawkes Co. Decision May Help Save Your Project When Wetlands are Present - June 2016

June 01, 2016

By Jim Lang - June 2016 Image courtesy of Michael Mees Wetlands make it hard to build at a property.  This is especially significant in Hampton Roads, Virginia, due to the high prevalence of wetlands in this part of the country.  The builder and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Army Corps) do not always agree on the size of the wetlands footprint, with the builder needing the footprint to be small in order for the project to go forward, and the Army Corps claiming the...

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President Nixon as Midwife for the Birth of Enviromental Law - June 2016

June 01, 2016

By Jim Lang - June 2016 Whether he actually said it or not, Winston Churchill gets credit for the quote that “Americans will always do the right thing, only after they have tried everything else.” Cuyahoga River Fire Nov. 3, 1952.  Courtesy of Special Collections, Michael SchwartzLibrary at Cleveland State University (from the Cuyahoga River – Fires, Accidents Collection) When deciding how much pollution may be released into our surroundings and whether there should be a...

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Choosing a Business Entity in Virginia - May 2016

May 24, 2016

by Brent R. Haden “I want to form a business, what type of entity should I choose?” As a business attorney, this is a question that I frequently run across. The choice of a business entity is one of the first questions that a new start-up should address and is more nuanced that many might think. To answer the question properly involves an analysis of the legal, tax and management objectives of the business owner. An owner looking to set up a real estate holding company will...

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Environmental Law: An Oil Spill Could Cost Your Business - March 2016

March 14, 2016

by James T. Lang The owner of each vessel, each shipyard, each port, and each waterfront facility that handles oil is faced with the risk of an oil spill into water. Ignoring the risk is foolhardy. It puts the business in jeopardy, along with the assets and even the personal freedom of the owner. Acknowledging the risk, and managing it, is an important business judgment that weighs the economic cost of the available prevention measures, the extent to which those measures, if...

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The Adam Walsh Act and the Petitioner's Burden to Prove "No Risk of Harm" - March 2016

March 08, 2016

by Anne C. Lahren The Adam Walsh Act (“AWA”) was enacted “To protect children from sexual exploitation and violent crime, to prevent child abuse and child pornography, to promote Internet safety, and to honor the memory of Adam Walsh and other child crime victims.” The AWA contains significant restrictions on a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident’s ability to petition for his or her spouse or fiancé(e) if he or she has been convicted of any specified offense against...

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The Importance of Carefully-Worded Job Descriptions - March 2016

March 04, 2016

by Jeffrey D. Wilson While employers are not legally required to draft job descriptions for most positions, many do anyway in an effort to define job duties. This week the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals issued an opinion that, while not groundbreaking, serves as a reminder of how important it is to properly word position descriptions, including those used to advertise job openings. In Stephenson v. Pfizer, Inc., No. 14-2079 (4th Cir. Mar. 2, 2016), the Court took up a...

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Is Manifest Disregard of the Law Still a Ground for Vacating Arbitration Awards? - March 2016

March 02, 2016

by Jack Rephan Eight years ago, the United States Supreme Court, in Hall Street Assocs., LLC v. Mattel, Inc.,[1] had before it the issue of whether or not parties to an arbitration agreement could expand the grounds for vacating an award under §§ 10 and 11 of the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA).[2] In holding that parties to an arbitration agreement cannot by private agreement expand the grounds for the reviewing an arbitration award, the Court also said that the FAA provides...

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Oil Spills: The Clean Water Act to the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 - February 2016

February 25, 2016

by James T. Lang A tugboat overturns in a waterway adjacent to a small shipyard off of the Eastern Branch of the Elizabeth River, near the Campostella Bridge in Norfolk, spilling an estimated 1,000 gallons of diesel fuel into the river. Firefighters who specialize in hazardous substance releases, the U.S. Coast Guard and the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality respond to the scene. The shipyard owner/operator is criticized for his failure to notify the National...

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Protection From Day One: The Importance of Employee Handbooks - February 2016

February 22, 2016

by Jeffrey D. Wilson In my second year of law school, one of my classmates was hired for a summer position by a prominent law firm. A few days before her new job was to begin, she sheepishly approached me and asked, “What happens when I start my job?” When I asked what she meant, she replied, “On the first day, what will happen when I get to the office? Will I have a desk? Do they have office supplies? Will someone tell me what I am working on?” It was then I realized that...

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