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Attorney

Position TitleAttorney
Alternate Title(s)Lawyer
Education & Training LevelAdvanced, graduate degree required
Education & Training Level DescriptionFormal requirements to become a attorney usually include a 4-year bachelor’s degree, 3 years of law school, and passing a written bar examination. However, requirements may vary by state.
Brief job description Attorneys advise and represent individuals, businesses, or government agencies on legal issues or disputes. Attorneys work within each sector of the wind industry, leading and supporting contract negotiation and execution, financing and confidentiality agreements, patents and intellectual property filings, mergers and acquisitions and legal compliance. They may also be involved in litigation procedures or work on regulatory and compliance issues.
Preferred Level of EducationJuris Doctor (J.D.)  or Master of Laws (LL.M.) in a related area
Preferred Level of ExperienceSee the Bureau of Labor Statistics for more information.
Estimated/Expected SalarySee the Bureau of Labor Statistics for more information.
Job Profile

In general, attorneys typically do the following:

  • Advise and represent clients in courts, before government agencies, or in private legal matters
  • Communicate with their clients and others
  • Conduct legal research and analysis of legal problems
  • Interpret laws, rulings, and regulations for individuals and businesses
  • Present facts in writing or verbally to their clients or others and argue on their behalf
  • Prepare and file legal documents, such as Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs), lawsuits, appeals, contracts, and deeds.

Attorneys will act as both advocates and advisors. As advocates, they represent one of the parties in criminal and civil trials by presenting evidence and arguing in court to support their client. As advisors, attorneys counsel their clients about their legal rights and obligations and suggest courses of action in business and personal matters. All attorneys research the intent of laws and judicial decisions and apply the laws to the specific circumstances that their clients face.
In the wind industry, attorneys work within each sector of the industry, developing expertise in addressing the issues and legal needs of that sector.

In the project development sector of the wind industry, attorneys lead or support negotiations of agreements relating to land, transmission, power purchase agreements, turbine supply and/or permitting. They draft documents to set up new project entities and support project financing and confidentiality agreements. Attorneys review legal and business terms drafted by other counterparties as well as support the drafting or understanding of new regulatory and policy changes at State and Federal levels.

Attorneys counsel clients on financing issues, permitting matters, innovative transactional structures, mergers/acquisitions, public/private partnerships, and the general working of early, mid, and late-stage project development with respect to wind project development.  Acceptable experience can include work on projects that have ranged in size from large, utility-scale to small, community wind or distributed generation projects.

In the component manufacturing sector, attorneys lead or assist in the negotiation of contractual Terms and Conditions as they relate to Turbine Supply Agreements, installation, warranty, service agreements, and mergers and acquisitions. They may also file patents; work on intellectual property, confidentiality agreements, and infringement litigation.

Attorneys are responsible for drafting the required legal language around commercial terms and conditions in turbine supply, warranty, installation, and service agreements. They work on mergers and acquisitions and help their company negotiate intellectual property (IP) laws as well as create confidentiality agreements and lead litigation in violation of these agreements.

Attorneys working in the operations and maintenance (O&M) sector develop, revise, and maintain all legal agreements relevant to day to day organizational operations. This could consist of service and operational contracts, including details such as exposure to liquidated damages, components, consumables, and supply contracts. Attorneys are involved in mergers & acquisitions, and legal compliance from an operations and human resources perspective.
In all sectors of the wind industry, attorneys remain abreast of industry evolution from the legal perspective, specifically regarding new O&M contracts, operations obligations, health and safety, and the intersection of operations and federal law.

Job Skills
  • Analytical skills. Attorneys help their clients resolve problems or issues. As a result, they must be able to analyze large amounts of information, determine relevant facts, and propose viable solutions.
  • Interpersonal skills. Attorneys must win the respect and confidence of their clients by building a trusting relationship so that clients feel comfortable and share personal information related to their case.
  • Detail-oriented. Attorneys draft and review binding legal documents and must be able to catch errors and understand how specific language used in contracts and other documents impacts their client.
  • Negotiation skills. Attorneys must have experience in successfully mediating and negotiating mutually beneficial agreements while maximizing value for their client and maintaining professional relationships.
  • Problem-solving skills. Attorneys must separate their emotions and prejudice from their clients’ problems and objectively evaluate the matter in order to prepare the best defense or recommendation. They should be able to identify and implement create solutions to issues.
  • Research skills. Preparing legal advice or representation for a client commonly requires substantial research. All attorneys need to be able to find what applicable laws and regulations apply to a specific matter.
  • Speaking and presentation skills. Attorneys are hired by their clients to speak on their behalf. Attorneys must be able to clearly present and explain evidence to a judge and jury. 
  • Writing skills. Attorneys need to be precise and specific when preparing documents, such as wills, trusts, and powers of attorney.
  • Ability to interact well with clients and opposing counsel.  Attorneys will need to be able to meet their client’s demands and expectations, including working to resolve issues with adverse or opposing counsel.

In addition, it is important that attorneys be familiar with the following:

  • Wind industry basics
  • Industry best practices
  • Federal and state regulatory climates
  • The interplay between developers, project owners, utilities, and electricity customers
  • Environmental and health/safety requirements for operation of wind plants
  • Performance contracts.
Resources

Bureau of Labor Statistics: Attorney

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