Jonathan B. Wilson

Legal Resources
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Out of Balance
Legislation for Renewable Energy

Jonathan Wilson is an Atlanta attorney with more than 19 years of experience guiding growing private and public companies.  He currently serves as the outside general counsel of several companies and is the former general counsel of (NASDAQ: WWWW) and EasyLink Services (NASDAQ: ESIC).  He is also the founding chair of the Renewable Energy Committee of the American Bar Association's Public Utility Section.

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Monday, May 31, 2010

Taylor English Attorney Writes for Forbes Sports
One of our newest lawyers, at Taylor English Duma, Kristi Dosh, is now writing a blog for Forbes Sports. 

Kristi has written a law review article on the antitrust exemption for major league baseball and has a book coming out entitled "Balancing Baseball: How Collective Bargaining Has Changed the Major Leagues" (McFarland & Co., Inc. 2011). 
4:40 pm edt 

Saturday, May 29, 2010

House Passes Tax Extenders Bill; Biodiesel and Fuel Mixture Credit Extensions Included
The House yesterday by a narrow margin passed H.R. 4213, extending various unemployment benefits and stimulus programs along with a basket of tax credits that included the biodiesel tax credit and the alternative fuel mixture credit. (House Committee bill summary). 

Although both liquid fuel credits expired at the end of 2009, and had been the subject of bills that would have extended the measures, Congressional Democrats insisted that they be included as part of a larger, omnibus package.

Since the expiration of the fuel tax credits many biodiesel plans have been idled or run at minimal capacity. 

While the bill extends the $1 per gallon biodiesel tax credit and the $0.50 per gallon alternative fuel tax credit, the bill excludes from the credit alternative fuel derived from biomass.  The carve-out is intended to prevent pulp producers from taking advantage of the "black liquor" tax credit permitted under  prior law. 

Section 207(d) of the bill amends IRC Section 6426(d) by adding to the exclusion at its end the phrase "biodiesel or any fuel (including lignin, wood residues, or spent pulping liquor) derived from the production of paper or pulp."  But, because the bill extends Section 6426(d)(F) (which defines alternative fuels to include alternative fuel derived from biomass) the black liquor exclusion would appear to apply only to wood residues derived from the pulping or paper-making process.

While finality will arrive only when (and if) the Senate passes a companion bill and both bills are reconciled, it would appear that the blender credit that previously applied to liquid fuel derived from biomass would be extended through December 31, 2010 and that the exclusion would apply only to paper and pulp producers. 
7:53 am edt 

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Obama Approval Hits New Low

The Rasmussen Presidential Approval index hit a new low today of -22 (Strongly Disapprove = 45%; Strongly Approve = 23%) as the President is losing support among his own supporters. 


11:20 am edt 

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Obama Approval Hits New Low

Rasmussen Reports is reporting that Barack Obama's approval rating has fallen to an all-time low of 42%, while 24% strongly approve and 44% strongly disapprove for a net approval rating of -20%. 

9:59 am edt 

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Taylor Englilsh Duma Ranked #1 Fastest-Growing Law Firm in Atlanta
The Business Chronicle article was released on Friday (the online version of the ABC does not carry the article).  Bob Goldberg is quoted to say that our growth is the result of our unique operating model and the quality and experience of our attorneys.

I know that when I explain our billing model to clients they are quickly convinced that they have no fear of runaway billing at Taylor English.  Because our attorneys are only compensated based upon fees collected, there is a very strong incentive for attorneys to work more efficiently.  And, as a result, our fees for a matter are often several times less than the fee for the same matter at a downtown law firm.       


Atlanta CityBizList
Street Insider
7:52 am edt 

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Taylor English Duma Fastest Growing Law Firm in Atlanta
The Atlanta Buisiness Chronicle is reporting that Taylor English Duma is now the fastest growing law firm in Atlanta. 

The firm, now 16th largest in the city:

* reported five-year revenue growth of 1049%;
* grew its number of attorneys by more than 950% over five years; and
* had 76 attorneys and 23 staff members as of April 30, 2010 (an attorney to staff ratio that is unmated by any other firm in the top 50). 
8:06 pm edt 

Retire In Georgia: New Law Eliminates Georgia State Income Tax for Seniors Over 65
Welcome to Georgia!

Governor Sonny Purdue rolled out a welcome mat for retirees last week when he signed H.B. 1055, phasing out income tax on retirement income for senior citizens over 65 beginning in 2017.  The bll also phases out the state's portion of property tax for homeowners over 65.

In a press release the Governor said, "We are creating an environment that encourages seniors to spend their retirement years and dollars in Georgia.  We are also finally getting the state completely out of the property tax business and at the same time providing property tax relief for nearly all Georgians." 
9:05 am edt 

Monday, May 17, 2010

SEC Guidance on Climate Change Disclosures
Keith Winn at Green Profit Solutions and I put together an article on the SEC's recent Guidance on climate change disclosures:

Part 1 What the Climate Change Guidance Really Means

The most important thing to realize about the Guidance is that it is not law, it is merely guidance. The requirements of public company disclosures, as set out in the Securities and Exchange Act of 1934 (the "1934 Act") and Regulation S-K have not changed. The Guidance merely provides some gloss on how the SEC might interpret a disclosure issue if one arose. In addition, to the extent SEC staff provide comments on a public issuer's financial report discloses, SEC staff are likely to refer to the Guidance when commenting.

The 1934 Act requires quarterly and annual financial reports (with quarterly reports on Form 10-Q and annual reports on Form 10-K) for companies with registered securities (defined in the regulations as "registrants"). The public disclosure requirements of the 1934 Act apply to all publicly-traded companies (i.e., those whose shares are traded on public exchanges like the NYSE and the NASDAQ) and those few companies who have so many shareholders that the public reporting requirements apply to them.

More . . .
7:33 am edt 

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Walter Olson
Congratulations to Walter Olson on his new role as a senior fellow at the Cato Institute.   Walter was previously the editor of PointOfLaw where he was a Senior Fellow at the Manhattan Institute. 

Walter was kind enough to include me in some projects at the Manhattan Institute after I wrote Out of Balance a few years ago.  Walter's ideas on loser-pays and the offer of judgment rule were a key part of the themes I developed in that book. 
7:34 am edt 

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Report: David Obey to Announce Retirement
According to reports, David Obey (D. WI) is expected to announce his retirement at 1pm today. 

Obey has been a fixture in the House for over 20 years, currently chairing the House Appropriations Committee. 

Politico's Ben Smith calls Obey's resignation a "major blow" to Democrats' hopes of retaining the House.
12:21 pm edt 

Monday, May 3, 2010

The Knowledge of Crowds / New General Counsel Survey
When I was a public company general counsel a frequent question my executives and board members would ask is how our company’s legal function compared to others. 

At times, because of prior management, we had a large number of litigation matters and it seemed like our litigation spending was higher than we would have liked.  How did our litigation spending compare to that of other public companies?
Should we have more in-house attorneys or should we send more work to outside firms?  How did our in-house attorney compensation compare to that of other companies?

While I had no difficulty finding lots of consultants willing to perform a study (for a fee) there was a dearth of public information available.

Rees Morrison, a legal department consultant, is now working on a survey that will fill in many of the gaps for those who want some tangible metrics on in-house law departments. 

Morrison’s General Counsel Survey aims to be the most comprehensive survey ever of in-house general counsels.  His survey compiles data from U.S. and non-U.S. companies and will be available in several languages. 

Please take the survey (if you are in-house) or encourage your clients to take it so that it can compile the widest possible collection of data.

8:31 am edt 

Sunday, May 2, 2010

DOE Funds Bio-Electric Research Projects
Biofuels Digest has a lengthy report on a recently DOE announcement of more than $100 million in DARPA-e grants for bio-electric research projects. 

April 29th DOE announcement was made by Vice President Biden, announced that "$106 million is awarded to projects that could produce advanced biofuels more efficiently from renewable electricity instead of sunlight; design completely new types of batteries to make electric vehicles more affordable; and remove the carbon pollution from coal-fired power plants in a more cost-effective way"

Key recipients of the grants included:

1. "Electrofuels" - Biofuels from Electricity --- Today's technologies for making biofuels all rely on photosynthesis - either indirectly by converting plants to fuels or directly by harnessing photosynthetic organisms such as algae. This process is less than 1% efficient at converting sunlight to stored chemical energy. Instead, Electrofuels approaches will use organisms able to extract energy from other sources, such as solar-derived electricity or hydrogen or earth-abundant metal ions. Theoretically, such an approach could be more than 10 times more efficient than current biomass approaches.

Harvard Medical School (Boston, MA) - Engineering a Bacterial Reverse Fuel Cell
This project would develop a bacterium to use electricity (which could come from renewable sources like solar or wind) to convert carbon dioxide into gasoline. The bacterium would act like a reverse fuel cell: where fuel cells use a fuel to produce electricity, this bacterium would start with electricity and produce a fuel. Research projects like this one demonstrate the great potential of bringing experts from other fields like biology and medicine to address our energy challenges. This project was selected for a $4 million grant from ARPA-E.

2. Better Batteries - Batteries for Electrical Energy Storage in Transportation ("BEEST") --- The critical barrier to wider deployment of electric vehicles is the high cost and low energy of today's batteries. This ARPA-E program seeks to develop a new generation of ultra-high energy density, low-cost battery technologies for long range plug-in hybrid and all-electric vehicles. If successful, the technologies developed in this program will greatly improve U.S. energy security, spur economic growth, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

MIT (Cambridge, MA) - Semi-Solid Rechargeable Flow Battery
This concept represents a new type of battery that doesn't exist today: a semi-solid flow battery that combines the best characteristics of rechargeable batteries and fuel cells. It could enable batteries for electric vehicles that are much lighter and smaller - and cheaper - than today's batteries. The cost difference is dramatic: this flow battery potentially could cost less than one-eighth of today's batteries, which could lead to widespread adoption of affordable electric vehicles. This project was selected for a $5 million grant from ARPA-E.

3. Zero-Carbon Coal: Innovative Materials & Processes for Advanced Carbon Capture Technologies ("IMPACCT") --- Coal-fired power plants currently generate approximately 50% of the electricity in the United States. But they also produce significant carbon pollution, which could have serious consequences for climate change. This ARPA-E program aims to support revolutionary technologies to capture carbon dioxide from coal-fired power plants using a range of approaches, including solvents, sorbents, catalysts, enzymes, membranes, and gas-liquid-solid phase changes.

GE Global Research Center (Niskayuna, NY) - CO2 Capture Process Using Phase-Changing Absorbents
A GE researcher came across an exciting discovery as part of an earlier Department of Energy-funded project: a certain liquid, when it reacts with carbon dioxide, turns into a solid powder. This could lead to a much less expensive way to capture carbon dioxide from coal-fired power plants -- the carbon dioxide in the powder can be much more easily separated from the plant's flue gases than gaseous carbon dioxide can. This project was selected for a $3 million grant from ARPA-E.

A complete list of selected projects is available here
6:48 am edt 

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Jonathan B. Wilson is an Atlanta attorney at the law firm of Taylor English Duma LLP.  Jonathan B. Wilson provides legal advice to investors, companies and business executives involving corporate law, securities law, SEC matters, intellectual property, website and Internet legal issues, start-ups, limited liability companies, partnerships, 1934 Act matters, outsourcing, strategic alliance agreements, contracts, and other matters of importance to growing private and publicly-traded companies.