provision of sophisticated regulatory advice, administrative proceeding expertise,
negotiations with providers of Telecommunications, energy, and Internet services, large- scale financial and tax matters, and comprehensive representation and counseling with regard to ERISA.
TLG advises and represents regulated utilities, local governments, consumer
organizations, and consumers before the California Public Utilities Commission, state and federal courts, and other federal and state regulatory agencies in connection with compliance with applicable regulatory requirements, obtaining required authorizations, policy advocacy and dispute resolution. Our work involves telecommunications, power, water and transportation industry utilities. Following are some representative matters that have been undertaken by our attorneys in these regulatory areas.
- Representation of cellular carriers in regulatory proceedings to establish the form of rate regulation applied to cellular carriers in California.
- Representation of various CLECs and Interexchange carriers in negotiation and arbitration of Interconnection Agreements with Incumbent Local Exchange Carriers and disputes regarding compliance with these agreements.
- Advice to the Secretary of Communications and Transportation of
Mexico in connection with drafting and implementation of Mexico’s 1995
- Representation of several CLECs and IXCs in the acquisition of required state and federal regulatory authorizations to provide intrastate and interstate telecommunications services in numerous states.
- Regulatory compliance advice to new industry participants such as Information Service Providers and software solution providers concerning the structuring of transactions and product to comply with, or remain exempt from, regulatory requirements.
- Representation of16 California county and municipal governments before the CPUC opposing PG&E and Southern California Edison network construction projects concerning failure to comply with ordinances requiring approvals by the local governments of these projects, as well as failure to comply with the California Environmental Quality Act and other applicable laws.
- Representation of a large consumer coalition opposed to the installation by California’s three largest electric utilities regulated by the CPUC (PG&E, Southern California Edison, and San Diego Gas & Electric) of wireless radio – dependent SmartMeters and associated radio equipment without implementing a comprehensive plan for allowing opponents to the equipment to opt-out of the program under reasonable terms and conditions. We obtained CPUC decisions ordering SCE to file such an opt-out plan and rejecting several provisions of the plan proposed by PG&E.
- Represented a large power generator during the 2000-2001 California energy crisis with respect to investigations by the CPUC, the California legislature, and the California Attorney General.
- Representation of two California municipalities before the CPUC in connection with the issue of payments to reimburse the California Department of Water Resources for purchases of power on behalf of the investor-owned energy utilities during the 2000-2001 California energy crisis (the DWR surcharge), the payment of competitive transition charges (the CTC surcharge), the jurisdiction of the CPUC over municipally-owned electric systems.
- Representation in regulatory proceeding of an applicant for California authority to construct a natural gas pipeline from Canada to California.
- Representation of an electric utility company in regulatory proceedings concerning nuclear power plant design, engineering and construction cost recovery cases.
- Representation of an owner and operator of sea water desalination plants on direct access issues related to electricity supply to the company’s desalination plants.
- Representation of a distributed generation company before the CPUC on interconnection and cost and pricing issues.
- Representation of a renewable energy company before the CEC in connection with its eligibility for renewable energy subsidies and credits.
- Representation of a large investor-owned California energy company in connection with its certification as a telecommunications provider utilizing fiber optic cables installed on its gas pipeline system.
- Representation of a Canadian-owned pipeline company in its application to the CPUC for authority to construct a natural gas pipeline from Canada to California to compete with the pipeline owned by PG&E.
TLG advises and represents telecommunications service providers, large users of telecommunications services, network construction companies, large commercial and residential real estate developers, and others in structuring, negotiating, and implementing a wide range of technology-centric transactions. Often these agreements are heavily affected by evolving regulatory frameworks. Following are some representative technology transactions that have been undertaken by our attorneys.
- Representation of numerous large users of communications and information services, including banks, insurance companies, local governments, and other commercial enterprises in negotiations with various service providers, including telephone companies, cable companies, wireless carriers, and internet and other unregulated service providers.
- Representation of a satellite construction company and service provider in connection with the first launch services agreement between a United States satellite system operator and Arianespace, the European launch vehicle consortium.
- Negotiation of a joint venture agreement between a regulated telephone company and a provider of unregulated information services for the provision of wholesale network infrastructure and data processing services to retail providers of information and telecommunications services.
- Representation of wireless communications companies and municipalities on the placement of wireless facilities in public rights-of-way and private land.
- Representation of real estate developers in negotiations with network providers of telephone, CATV, and Internet services to large planned communities.
- Negotiation of construction agreements for a nationwide fiber optic network, related right-of-way agreements, equipment agreements, network capacity agreements.
- Negotiation of corporate acquisition agreements involving telecommunications companies subject to various state and federal regulatory requirements.
The Employee Retirement Income Security Act (“ERISA”) initially enacted in 1974 to overhaul the federal laws governing employee benefit plans, has been amended on a regular basis to meet the changing retirement and healthcare needs of employees and their families. Staying current in the midst of these complex changes is no easy matter for employers, plan fiduciaries, and service providers. Administered by three separate federal agencies—the Department of Labor (DOL), the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), and the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC)—the technical rules of ERISA pose a formidable compliance challenge.
Tobin Law Group’s ERISA Practice has a broad range of experience in issues that relate to employee benefit plans. We represent plans, plan sponsors, plan fiduciaries, actuaries, and other plan consultants, banks, insurers, investment entities, and trade associations that focus on ERISA issues. We routinely represent sponsors of all types of retirement plans, including 401(k) plans and defined benefit plans; and health and welfare plans, with regard to plan design issues. We also represent institutional investors including corporate, nonprofit and government sponsors of employee benefit plans, Taft-Hartley funds, investment advisory firms and insurance companies in all aspects relevant to fiduciary counseling. TLG’s ERISA Practice focuses primarily on ERISA fiduciary responsibility matters, DOL and IRS investigations, litigation support on fiduciary issues, and representation of plan service providers, particularly financial institutions.
We also provide guidance to trustees and other plan fiduciaries with regard to investment advice and fee reporting and disclosure issues, ERISA good governance practices including the preparation of investment guidelines, plan design/ implementation issues, as well as, prohibited transaction exemptions, voluntary correction programs and other DOL/IRS administrative procedures.
We routinely conduct compliance reviews, training and educational programs for plan trustees and other fiduciaries of pension plans. We also advise client companies and unions on ERISA Plan Asset Regulation and fund formation/investment issues. We have represented a number of large financial institutions (including Broker/Dealers and Investment Advisors) over the years with regard to their ERISA compliance and regulatory issues, including a number of exemptions from the DOL.
We also provide contract advice with respect to investment managers, custodians, plan record-keepers, third-party administrators, managed care providers and other plan service providers, and can provide compliance assistance with regard to state and federal laws and regulations applicable to group health plans, including COBRA and HIPAA.
Following are descriptions of some representative ERISA matters that have been undertaken by our attorneys.
- Representation of plans, corporate and government plan sponsors, plan fiduciaries, actuaries, and other plan consultants, banks, insurers, institutional investors, investment entities, and trade associations in all aspects relevant to ERISA. We routinely represent sponsors of all types of retirement plans, including 401(k) plans and defined benefit plans; and health and welfare plans, with regard to plan design/implementation and interactions with government agencies.
- Advise clients through the complex legal issues that arise in the day to day administration of employee benefit plans. Providing guidance to trustees and other plan fiduciaries with regard to investment advice and fee reporting and disclosure issues, ERISA good governance practices including the preparation of investment guidelines, as well as, with DOL/IRS investigations, prohibited transaction exemptions, voluntary correction programs and other DOL/IRS administrative procedures.
- Conduct compliance reviews, training and educational programs for plan trustees and other fiduciaries of pension plans. We also advise client companies and unions on ERISA Plan Asset Regulation and fund formation/investment issues.
- Provide advice with respect to investment managers, custodians, plan record- keepers, third-party administrators, managed care providers and other plan service providers, and can provide compliance assistance with regard to state and federal laws and regulations applicable to group health plans, including COBRA and HIPAA.
- Representation of a large mutual fund company in connection to a high profile DOL investigation in which the client ultimately received a no action closing letter from the DOL after a 2.5 year investigation. We have also defended a large financial institution with regard to its trustee duties to an ESOP in a DOL litigation matter.
TLG’s Corporate and Tax Practice provides business tax structuring and transactional advice, including advice and representation concerning federal income, state income and franchise, sales and use and property tax, with particular emphasis on tax transactions and representation of taxpayers before the Internal Revenue Service. The Corporate and Tax Practice also provides corporate formation and structuring services. Following are descriptions of some representative matters that have been undertaken by our Tax Practice attorneys.
- Provide corporate formation and structuring advice in connection with the client’s acquisition of a CATV system.
- Business tax structuring and transactional advice in federal income, state income and franchise, sales and use and property tax with particular emphasis on tax transactions.
- Representation of Southern Pacific Transportation Company before the IRS.
- Acted as lead tax attorney for Southern Pacific Transportation Company while it was held in a voting trust pending ICC approval of its merger with the Santa Fe railroad, handling its tax litigation with the Internal Revenue Service and managing its property tax litigation with the State of California.
- Provide significant tax advice on the sale of SPRINT to GTE.