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Eversheds Sutherland advises Magnetar Capital on latest acquisition

Eversheds Sutherland is pleased to announce that it represented alternative asset manager Magnetar Capital in the acquisition of international property and investment group Lendlease’s renewable energy business unit, which will operate under the name Vesper Energy moving forward.

Since its start in 2015, Vesper Energy has commercialised over 680 MW of utility-scale solar projects in the US. Working closely with communities and customers, the company develops, builds and operates high-quality, high value assets that contribute to a sustainable, decarbonised electrical grid. Its current customers include municipalities, higher education institutions, large corporations and integrated electric utilities.

Vesper Energy has an existing 3 GW solar and 2.5 GWh energy storage development pipeline across the US, encompassing 20 unique projects. The company plans to begin construction on three new projects in 2021 in California, Ohio and Pennsylvania.

“We are excited to extend Magnetar’s existing renewables franchise into the rapidly growing utility-scale solar and storage market in North America,” said Adam Daley, co-head of Energy and Infrastructure at Magnetar. “This investment complements our existing solar portfolio companies and reflects our continued commitment to providing growth capital to businesses actively reducing carbon emissions.”

Eversheds Sutherland Partner Thomas H. Warren led the deal team, which also included Partners Michael Gurion and Madeleine M. L. Tan as well as Associates Alistair W. J. McMaster and Alyssa N. Walker.

Duane Morris Celebrates Black History Month

Last year, Duane Morris had the honor of hosting civil rights icon Fred Gray, who shared inspiring stories of being the attorney who represented Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks and others in some of the most consequential cases in the civil rights movement.

Growing up in the segregated South, Gray made a commitment to himself that he would “finish Alabama State, take the bar exam and destroy everything segregated I could find.”

Only months after being admitted to the bar, Gray’s first case was representing Claudette Colvin, who was arrested on March 2, 1955, in Montgomery, Alabama, for refusing to forfeit her seat for a white rider while on her way to school. While unsurprisingly losing that case (young Colvin was put on unsupervised probation), Gray kept all of the court documents, knowing that another opportunity would come.

After much discussion and strategising in the community, Gray’s friend Rosa Parks famously refused to give up her bus seat to a white rider on December 1, 1955. Parks, only his second client, was arrested on a Thursday and the case was quickly slated for the following Monday. Gray prepared the case over the weekend, while the activists in the community simultaneously prepared for the Montgomery bus boycott. Realising the boycott needed a spokesperson, they enlisted the help of Dr. King, who until that time had not been active in the civil rights movement. Gray argued the case for the next year, until finally achieving legal victory in federal court, ending the boycott after 382 days.

The attention drawn by Dr. King during the boycott prompted state authorities to charge King, who had left Alabama, for perjury in connection with filing a false tax return, of which he was acquitted. Of the achievement, Gray said, “We had a good team together and were able to get an all-white jury in the middle of the sit-in demonstrations in the spring of 1960 to end up finding that Dr. King was innocent of perjury.” Gray went on to explain, “I think that was one of the most important cases because he was now protesting the Vietnam War. If it had come out that, while he was leading this new civil rights organisation and at the same time he’s cheating and wouldn’t pay his taxes, it would have been devastating.”

In the decades that followed, Gray’s legal work in the 1960s included paving the way for redistricting and reapportioning legislative bodies across the nation with the “one man, one vote” concept; getting court-ordered protection for marchers as they walked from Selma to Montgomery to present grievances as a result of being unable to vote; one of the first civil rights actions brought to remedy systematic exclusion of blacks from jury service; and integrating all state institutions of higher learning in Alabama under the control of the state Board of Education, as well as most elementary and secondary school systems. In the 1970s, Gray served as counsel to preserve and protect the rights of those involved in the infamous Tuskegee syphilis study and has been the moving force in the establishment of the Tuskegee Human and Civil Rights Multicultural Center.

Legacy in Law

George Boyer Vashon was born in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, in 1824. His father was an abolitionist who was a well-respected leader in the black community and the abolitionist movement. As a teenager, Vashon co-founded the Pittsburgh Anti-Slavery Society in 1838. He was the first African-American to graduate from Oberlin College in Ohio, where he was class valedictorian. Vashon apprenticed for the law in Pittsburgh under Judge Walter Forward, who was later U.S. Secretary of the Treasury.

Despite of his qualifications and academic achievements, Vashon was not allowed to sit for the Pennsylvania bar exam due to his race.

Instead, Vashon moved to New York and became the first licensed African-American attorney in that state. He then taught in Haiti; practiced law in Syracuse, New York; was a professor at New York Central College; and later returned to Pittsburgh, where he became a principal at African-American public schools and served as president of Avery College. He again petitioned to sit for the Pennsylvania bar exam, 20 years after his first attempt, and was again denied. Vashon moved to Washington, D.C., where he was admitted to practice before the U.S. Supreme Court. In 1867, he became the first black professor at Howard University. Vashon became a professor of ancient and modern languages at Alcorn University in 1873.

More than a century and a half after being denied admission to the bar in Pennsylvania because of the color of his skin, Vashon’s great-grandson Nolan N. Atkinson Jr., his firm Duane Morris and others set out to right this historical wrong, finally winning official recognition from the Pennsylvania Supreme Court and getting Vashon admitted to the state bar in an official ceremony in 2010.

When the Minority Corporate Counsel Association awarded Duane Morris with its prestigious Innovator Award in 2012, the MCCA renamed the award after Vashon. Duane Morris has also gone on to keep the pioneer’s legacy going by hosting the annual George B. Vashon lecture series, which has seen academic leaders, federal judges, legislators and others speak on civil rights and social justice issues.

History of Firsts

During Nolan Atkinson’s nearly 25 years at Duane Morris, his focus on his thriving commercial litigation practice never prevented him from making sure he used that position to continue the work of people like Vashon. Atkinson, a participant in the 1963 March on Washington, was instrumental in the Philadelphia Diversity Law Group, Inc., a consortium of law firms and corporations committed to increasing ethnic and racial diversity in Philadelphia’s larger law firms. He was a tireless contributor to the Conference of Minority Partners in Majority Corporate Law Firms, a constituent entity of the Commission on Racial and Ethnic Diversity in the Profession of the ABA and numerous other groups focused on diversity. He was the first Chief Diversity Officer at Duane Morris and served in that role for eight years.

Fittingly, when the City of Philadelphia wanted to establish the role of Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer, Mayor Jim Kenney turned to Atkinson. Since 2016, Atkinson has brought his energy to knocking down the barriers that had historically kept the city’s large workforce racially and economically divided and creating a culture that attracts talented, diverse leaders to Philadelphia government.

Diversity & Inclusion

Helmed by Joseph K. West, who succeeded Atkinson in 2016 as Duane Morris’ Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer, the firm’s diversity and inclusion program is managed with the objective of utilising the best talent worldwide in solving legal problems. The firm recruits a diverse pool of lawyers that collectively possess an awareness of cutting-edge 21st century issues—legal, social and economic—for which clients require solutions. West has stated, “We see our robust approach to diversity and inclusion not just as a critical part of the DNA of the firm and essential to our business, but also as central to our every interaction with each of our clients. It allows us to engage with existing and prospective clients, with existing and prospective employees and with every aspect of our public engagement where we consistently emphasise that diversity and inclusion is part of the fabric of our firm and that it informs every aspect of our internal and external relationships.”

West, in addition to being an active litigator representing domestic and global companies, is a nationally recognised subject matter authority in the field of diversity and inclusion, and leader of the firm’s unique Diversity and Inclusion Consulting Group which focuses on crafting sustainable diversity and inclusion programs and solutions for corporate entities. Earlier in his career, West successfully leveraged his role as Head of Global Outside Counsel Management at Walmart to establish and meet diversity and inclusion goals through its outside counsel spend, for which he is recognised as being at the forefront of building the business case for diversity. He also facilitated the company’s role as an initial signatory to the Inclusion Initiative with the National Association of Minority & Women Owned Law Firms. West went on to spend five years as President and CEO of MCCA, tripling membership in the national advocacy group for corporate diversity and inclusion issues. In 2019, West was the recipient of the inaugural Lifetime Achievement Award: Diversity & Equality from Chambers and Partners.

Central Pennsylvania law firm launches marketing agency

A marketing agency connected to a law firm in Lancaster County has opened for business.  opened on Oct. 1.

The agency offers a range of marketing services including marketing strategy, website design, campaign strategy and execution, graphic design, social media, content marketing and video/animation production. The company provides digital and traditional marketing services to small- to medium-sized businesses throughout the country.

“The team develops creative strategies to enhance clients’ market visibility and give them a competitive edge to help them reach their business goals,” Jenna Wagner, executive director of Granite Creative said in a press release.

The core team of the company has been working together at the law firm of Saxton & Stump in Manheim Township in its marketing department, providing internal marketing services and for the last couple years. The department has also assisted clients who had outsourced marketing work to the firm, according to Anthony Gaenzle, director of marketing and business development at Granite Creative Group.

The new firm is owned by Saxton & Stump and is located in the same building as 280 Granite Run Drive, but will remain independent of the law firm as the firm will maintain its internal marketing department. The new company will be able to take on both small and large projects, Gaenzle said.

The law firm has offices in Manheim Township, Lower Paxton Township and Chester County. The law firm was founded in 2015 with offices in the Harrisburg area and the Lancaster area. Its founding employees included lawyers, doctors and nurses. Last year, the firm relocated its office to Crums Mill Road in Lower Paxton Township.

Law Offices of Howard G. Smith Announces Securities Class Action

Law Offices of Howard G. Smith announces that a class action lawsuit has been filed on behalf of investors who purchased Avon Products, Inc. (“Avon” or the “Company”) (NYSE: AVP) securities between August 2, 2016 and August 2, 2017, inclusive (the “Class Period”). Avon investors have until April 15, 2019 to file a lead plaintiff motion.

Investors suffering losses on their Avon investments are encouraged to contact the Law Offices of Howard G. Smith to discuss their legal rights in this class action at 888-638-4847 or by email to [email protected].

On August 3, 2017, Avon issued a press release announcing its second quarter 2017 financial results and held a conference call to discuss the results. The Company reported a net loss of $0.12 per share and a 3% decline in active representatives. Avon also reported that Brazil revenue was “down 2% in constant dollars, primarily driven by a decrease in Active Representatives.” On the call, Avon’s Chief Financial Officer acknowledged that, despite Avon’s earlier representations, the remedial actions in Brazil (i.e., stricter credit terms applied to recruiting new representatives) were negatively impacting active representatives and revenue in Brazil. On this news, shares of Avon fell $0.36, or 10.71%, to close at $3.00 per share on August 3, 2017, thereby injuring investors.

The Complaint filed in this class action alleges that Defendants made materially false and misleading statements and/or failed to disclose that: (1) Avon was engaged in an undisclosed scheme whereby it significantly loosened its credit terms in order to recruit new representatives in Brazil, its largest market; (2) its specific credit terms in Brazil; (3) Avon failed to increase its allowance for doubtful accounts to account for the changes to its credit terms in Brazil; and (4) as a result of these concealments, Avon stock was trading at artificially inflated prices throughout the class period.

If you purchased shares of Avon, have information or would like to learn more about these claims, or have any questions concerning this announcement or your rights or interests with respect to these matters, please contact Howard G. Smith, Esquire, of Law Offices of Howard G. Smith, 3070 Bristol Pike, Suite 112, Bensalem, Pennsylvania 19020 by telephone at (215) 638-4847, toll-free at (888) 638-4847, or by email to [email protected], or visit our website at http://www.howardsmithlaw.com/

This press release may be considered Attorney Advertising in some jurisdictions under the applicable law and ethical rules.

Hazen Law Group to Host Estate Planning Discussion at Walden Way

Hazen Law Group will host a free informational session and discussion at Walden Way 55+ Community in Mount Joy, Pennsylvania on April 3, 2019.

Marielle F. Hazen, Esq., will lead an information-packed session on Elder Law & Estate Planning for senior citizens, their loved ones, and anyone who wants to learn about proper estate planning, asset protection and elder law.

Marielle Hazen is a Certified Elder Law Attorney (CELA). She is also the founder of Hazen Law Group, a firm dedicated to the practice of elder law, estate planning and administration, nursing home planning and special needs law.

The session will take place at the Walden Way Community Center from 2:00 to 3:00 p.m. on Wednesday, April 3. For more information about Walden Way, contact Jean Young at 717-928-4432.

Marielle Hazen is a founding member and past president of the Pennsylvania Association of Elder Law Attorneys (PAELA) and a past president of the Special Needs Alliance.

Hazen Law Group provides expert guidance in elder law, special needs law and estate planning in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania and surrounding communities. For more about the firm or to schedule a consultation, call Hazen Law Group at 717-540-4332.

If you would like to find out more, please visit http://www.hazenlawgroup.com/