Our lawyers and government consultants have extensive experience dealing with federal and state regulators, legislative bodies, local governments and executive agencies on a wide range of issues, including insurance and tort reform, medical and financial regulation, government contracts, environmental permitting, energy and land use, government investigations, and enforcement actions.
We interact with all levels of government on behalf of our clients, drawing on our thorough understanding of government’s inner workings and extensive network of personal and professional relationships with government insiders. Our knowledge and contacts allow us to address wide-ranging legislative, administrative, procedural, and political issues. As a result, we serve clients as a vital legal resource for strategic planning and counseling in governmental affairs, lobbying, regulatory and administrative law. We also litigate many of these issues.
- Continuing representation, since 1986, of The Villages, the largest single site development in the United States, which currently contains 115,000 population and more than 5 million of non-residential square feet. It is now expanding into yet another local government making a community contained within eight local governments and operated through special districts and inter-local agreements with its host governments. As The Villages has grown over the years, so has our work inside the Florida Legislature on its behalf. This last Session we passed legislation enabling two skilled nursing facilities for the client because of the sheer number of its residents who will be older than 75 within the next few years. The client could not seek it through normal channels because of an 11-year state moratorium that would not end in sufficient time to build the facilities necessary to serve the residents.
- Defended life insurer before the Florida Division of Administrative Hearings regarding administrative complaint seeking to revoke its license to write insurance in Florida based on 31 counts of allegedly refusing to issue life insurance to persons of Haitian and other Latin American origin due to their national origin, in violation of the Florida Insurance Unfair Trade Practices Act. We prevailed against the charges.
- Represented CityPlace, a 72-acre mixed use public-private partnership for redevelopment of downtown West Palm Beach, Florida; also organized CityPlace Community Development District (a special district) and negotiated all development agreements and master ground leases.
- Obtained first-ever approval from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection of an application of the “area of contamination” guidance to a site; Client relocated contaminated soils within containment structures on the site, divided site into two distinct areas for application for Brownfield voluntary cleanup tax credits, and constructed a state-of-the-art recycling facility.
- Currently working on a very large natural resource mitigation project in Florida for one of the best known entities in the world. Work involves dealing with the Corps of Engineers and the applicable water management district and a plethora of state, local, and federal agencies. The client has said the work must be complete and permits obtained within a year, which is warp speed for this kind of project. We are on track.
- Received full approvals for a client providing health insurance benefits to state employees following long hearings before the Florida Division of Administrative Hearings, which involved several others seeking approvals. The case was resolved to client’s complete satisfaction.
- Represented a 5,234-acre limestone mine in Palm Beach County. Organized a public-private partnership with Palm Beach County, SFWMD to create the L-8 Reservoir; negotiated real estate transaction with FP&L to build the West County Energy Center onsite; and, completed a merger with Florida Crystals and its subsidiaries to expand the overall mine area.
We assist clients with rule promulgation, rule challenges, and other administrative litigation, including administrative proceedings that involve challenges to licenses, permits, and comprehensive plan amendments and government contract protests. We also advise on non-rule policy issues. Our experience covers subjects and industries including, but not limited to, building code criteria, professional and business licensure, environmental permitting, state tax, health care, government procurement, insurance, and public records disputes.
Our lawyers are familiar with the numerous state, local, and federal housing agencies that provide funding for the development of affordable housing in Florida. Over the past 20 years, we have assisted clients with affordable housing project planning and development throughout the state. We help them prepare, review, and defend applications requesting funding from the Florida Housing Finance Corporation, including low income housing tax credit (LIHTC) applications and state apartment incentive loan (SAIL) applications. We also help them prepare and submit applications for funding at the local level.
Our extensive education law experience includes representing numerous school districts and school superintendents across the state, and private entities doing business before school districts, or at the state level either before agencies or the Legislature. We practice before the State Board of Education and assist clients with matters at the Florida Department of Education. We are also experienced in construction litigation and construction permitting issues for schools and charter schools; personnel matters; lobbying; contractual issues; procurement; and environmental matters, including mold remediation and asbestos abatement.
Environmental & Energy Law
We assist clients during all phases of environmental permitting. Our work includes developing pre-application or pre-renewal strategies, assisting with the application process, negotiating permit conditions during initial permit issuance or renewal, and defending challenges to proposed permit conditions on behalf of the permittee or other interested parties as well as interpretation of permit conditions and related compliance issues. We represent clients before all federal, state, and local agencies and boards, including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Governor and Cabinet, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, and water management districts. Our statewide presence, relationships with local and agency staff and management, and strong legal and lobbying team in Tallahassee, allow us to craft solutions to thorny regulatory problems. We are actively involved on behalf of our clients and their trade associations in developing policy with the various regulatory agencies before which they appear.
Our comprehensive environmental practice includes representation related to:
- Air (mobile sources, Title V, PSD)
- Brownfield designation and development
- Chinese drywall
- Coastal construction
- Community-right-to-know (SARA)
- Due diligence reviews
- Endangered and listed species
- Environmental due diligence
- Environmental insurance
- Environmental litigation, including Superfund litigation
- Indoor air quality
- Marina leasing permitting
- Mold and microbial contaminants
- Regulatory compliance
- Risk based corrective action
- Rulemaking and rule challenges
- Solid and hazardous waste (C&D, Class I and III landfills, transfer stations, used oil recycling, solid waste management facilities, and RCRA facility permitting) and various special wastes
- Stormwater and NPDES permitting
- Tank regulation
- Water (rights; supply; reuse; industrial and domestic wastewater facility permitting; wastewater systems, TMDLs, and WQBELs; stormwater permitting, and NPDES)
- Wetlands/dredge and fill/mitigation banking
On the energy law side, we provide a wide range of legal services to energy-related companies and public authorities, including electric and natural gas firms. We counsel, advise, and represent them before state regulatory agencies, state and federal courts, and arbitration panels.
Our attorneys appear regularly before the Florida Public Service Commission (FPSC) on matters including base rate proceedings, investigations of regulated utilities, proceedings to determine the need for new power plants, and prudence reviews. Through this work, our attorneys routinely interact with FPSC technical and legal staff. We also handle numerous related court cases involving judicial review of FPSC actions, rule challenges, Public Records Act litigation, and other proceedings involving FPSC-related matters. Additionally, we represent utilities in federal and state court litigation, arbitrations, and mediations, regarding matters including power purchase agreements and construction disputes. We also advise clients on low impact development.
Finally, we are engaged in, and advise on, sustainable development such as low impact development and green building issues. We handle oil and gas leases and pipelines for oil, natural gas, and petroleum in addition to electric transmission lines and plants. We also handle solar issues and advise clients dealing with alternative energy requirements.
Ethics and Election
Our lawyers and government consultants assist clients with election law issues, and are experienced with the requirements for qualifying to run for office, campaign finance reporting, and political committee registrations and activities. They have also worked on constitutional amendment petition processes, redistricting, third party voter registration procedures, city and county charter issues, and general campaign and voting procedures. We handle matters on behalf of governments, such as representing a county supervisor of elections, and individuals and corporations seeking to comply with election laws. Our government consultants can also help coordinate local and Community Development District elections, which must be conducted by a Florida supervisor of elections pursuant to Florida law. We also represent clients in litigation resulting from elections and redistricting.
As a corollary, we represent government officials before the Florida Ethics Commission and advise private companies on compliance with the relevant statutes and precedent.
We advise and represent vendors and contractors seeking and negotiating contracts with state, local and federal government entities. We guide clients through all phases of the public procurement process, providing information to government entities during the development of procurement solicitation documents, helping public contractor clients prepare responses to competitive procurements, defending and challenging awards through both administrative and judicial proceedings, participating in contract term negotiations, and advising and representing clients in matters regarding contract compliance, including matters involving the privatization or outsourcing of major government services or infrastructure projects. We also represent public entities, defending award decisions, and providing legal advice regarding the implementation of procurement policies and procedures designed to minimize the likelihood of future procurement litigation.
Land Use, Zoning, and Economic Development
We represent a diverse variety of land use clients, including mostly private developers but also governmental bodies.
Our comprehensive land use representation has included helping clients locate viable sites for development or redevelopment, and identifying any relevant land use issues for entitlements. Our representation often continues through completion of a development project including permitting, public lands, local government, lobbying, and can include litigation or appeals.
Our services regarding land use issues include:
- Comprehensive plan review and amendments
- Rezoning and variances
- Planned developments amendment
- Code and text amendments
- Construction permitting
- Conditional uses/special exceptions
- Developments of Regional Impact
- Community Development Districts and other special districts
- Sector plans
- Impact fees and exactions
- Developers’ agreements (including those regarding transportation and stormwater concurrency mitigation)
- School concurrency agreements
- Government contracting
- Master planned development
- Public construction projects
- Representation of government entities and special districts
- Taxation issues
- Government operations, financing, and management
- Historic preservation
- Water resources
- Power plants, transmission lines, pipelines, and transportation facilities
- Utilities siting and permitting
- Urban design
- Transfer of development rights
- Telephone and wireless communication siting and zoning
- Litigation regarding all the above
Licensing and Compliance
Our lawyers and government consultants work at the highest levels within the state agencies that regulate the numerous Florida industries and professions that require licensure, including construction, engineering, architecture, real estate, condominium, alcoholic beverage, insurance, and health care. We defend clients against government-initiated disciplinary actions based on alleged regulatory violations. We also routinely guide our clients through the complex web of requirements necessary to obtain professional or business licensure in Florida.
We have assisted clients with alcohol beverage license applications, transfers, and related zoning and enforcement issues. Our clients have included hotel franchise operations, major restaurant chains, and professional sports teams. In the financial services area, our clients have included HMO’s, continuing care communities, mortgage brokers, cemeteries and funeral directors, insurance agents, sellers of securities and their branch offices, and banks. Our services in this area include insurance licensure and rate litigation.
We regularly advise and represent life and health insurers, property and casualty insurers, reinsurers, specialty insurers, agents, managing general agents, third party administrators, and other regulated entities regarding matters including:
- Approval of form and rate filings, and regulatory litigation to contest denials of form and rate submissions
- Applications for issuance of certificates of authority and other insurance licenses, and litigation to contest denials of licensure
- Applications for regulatory approval for acquisitions and changes of control
- Approvals for exemptions from Form A requirements or disclaimers of control in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, North Carolina, New York, Ohio, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Wisconsin, and Puerto Rico
- Approval of bulk reinsurance transactions and accredited reinsurer status
- Market conduct investigations and examinations, financial examinations, and regulatory litigation arising from them; investigations under the federal False Claims Act and its state law counterparts; and investigations under state and federal unfair trade practice laws and similar consumer protection laws
- Investigations and audits regarding Florida premium tax, retaliatory tax, corporate income tax, and sales or use tax
- License disciplinary proceedings
- Disputes concerning the validity or amount of residual market assessments against insurers, and premium and retaliatory tax assessments
- Disputes regarding the validity and constitutionality of legislation and agency rules adversely affecting entities regulated under insurance codes
- Trade secret and proprietary information protection in connection with insurance regulatory reporting requirements and in the course of rehabilitation or liquidation proceedings against impaired or insolvent direct insurers
On the transactional side, we routinely assist insurance clients with corporate transactions, including the formation or acquisition of insurers, corporate restructuring, portfolio transfers, sales or transfers due to insolvency proceedings, and sales of insurance agencies and brokerage firms. We also advise insurance clients on regulatory financial matters concerning surplus notes, administration of deposits, and the status of insurer assets, liabilities, and investments under state insurance statutory accounting statutes.
Our lobbying and government affairs professionals have extensive experience dealing with all levels of government, including state, county, municipal, and regional agencies and authorities in Florida and Georgia. We represent clients on a wide variety of executive and legislative issues.
Our experience includes:
- Legislative Lobbying
We identify, track, analyze, and summarize legislative and political and policy considerations in the legislative branch, assessing their impact on client operations. We also help draft legislation and amendments, help pass or defeat legislative proposals, and use our extensive political relationships to efficiently advocate client positions. We counsel clients regarding political contributions and related regulatory reporting requirements.
- Executive Agency Lobbying
We work closely with agencies and commissions of Florida’s and Georgia’s executive branch, and represent clients in local government with an emphasis on land use and government contracts. We are also involved in the formulation of agency public policy, including the rulemaking process.
- Local Government Representation
We represent clients before local governments in areas of policymaking, procurement of goods or services (unless forbidden by law or ordinance), permitting, licensure, and land use.
Open Government, Records, Meetings, and Gifts
We advise and represent government entities, government contractors, and private individuals and entities on relating to open meetings and public records laws. We assist both government entities and those acting on behalf of government entities on matters relating to compliance with these open government requirements, as well as advising private individuals and entities on the applicability of public records law to materials submitted by them to governmental and quasi-governmental bodies, obtaining access to public records, and applicable exemptions under both the open meetings and public records laws. Finally, we work with both government officials and private entities on issues relating to gifts and reporting requirements.