On the road of life, there are passengers and there are drivers. Attorney Allison I. Fultz, Partner, Kaplan Kirsch & Rockwell LLP, is an exceptional driving force behind this year’s inaugural Passenger Rail Seminar. She will serve on several panels and moderate the session “Regulatory & Safety” at the November 15, 2019, seminar in Washington, D.C., at the FHI Conference Center. We encourage you to take advantage of onsite registration. Please visit the following for our onsite registration form and bring it with you on the day of the event: www.fedbar.org/Image-Library/Events/2019-Passenger-Rail/Rail19-Onsite-Reg-Form.

Allison Fultz focuses her practice on transactional and regulatory matters relating to transportation and infrastructure projects. She represents public transportation bodies, state and municipal governments, and private entities before numerous federal agencies and state and federal courts in connection with the acquisition and abandonment of railroad rights-of-way, rails-to-trails proposals, fixed-guideway transit project development, airport development, environmental reporting, the use and regulation of unmanned aerial vehicles, and agency rulemaking.

Allison graciously provided Federal Bar Association blog readers with a behind-the-scenes look at the upcoming Passenger Rail Seminar in the following Q&A. Start your engines and climb aboard for a powerful discussion of rail law!

  1. What is your role in the exciting inaugural Passenger Rail Seminar?

 I’m a transportation transactional and regulatory attorney and the primary instigator of this seminar. I represent both public and private entities in their dealings with railroads or rail-related projects, and the majority of my clients are public entities—regional passenger rail operators, state DOTs, and local governments.

Rail law is not taught in law schools, and being a practitioner in the rail industry requires a wide range of legal skills and knowledge of different areas of the law. On any given day, I could be reviewing deeds from the 19th century granting a rail right-of-way, revising grant agreements for federal funding for a rail development project, negotiating a purchase and sale agreement for the acquisition of a rail line, or analyzing current legislation or rulemaking. With this seminar, we hope to provide attendees with a working knowledge of the law that applies to passenger rail operations so that they can spot issues as they arise and help their organizations resolve them.

2. What makes the Passenger Rail Seminar unique?

There’s no single course in rail law offered anywhere else. This seminar brings together discussions of real property law, commercial negotiations, safety regulations, the broad scope of federal preemption in many rail-related matters, the particular cultures of the federal agencies that regulate the rail industry, and the various funding options available for rail projects.

3. Which panels or panelists do you look forward to hearing from?

All of them! We are very pleased with the way the panels have come together and look forward to very lively, interactive discussions.

4. Why is the time ripe for a seminar of this nature?  

The laws and policies affecting the intercity passenger rail network, regional commuter operations, and urban mass transit systems are constantly changing, and a number of significant recent legislative revisions are reshaping the way various sectors of the passenger rail industry operate.

5. Are there any common misconceptions about the study or practice of rail law you would like to clear up or that you think attendees will benefit from hearing about at the Passenger Rail Seminar on November 15?

Because the reach of federal preemption of state and local law is very broad in the rail context, a number of legal mechanisms that we take for granted just don’t operate the same way when railroads are in the mix. For instance, eminent domain is not available for the acquisition of rail property in most cases, so negotiation strategies need to take that into account. Using federal funding to construct infrastructure and purchase rail vehicles will involve a number of very specific federally required obligations, such as competitive bidding processes and domestic content requirements for procurements and public consultation relating to the anticipated impacts of a project on environmental and historic preservation interests.

6. Who should attend the Passenger Rail Seminar?

 We welcome attorneys working in any area of the rail industry—particularly those who are on staff at organizations that operate passenger rail services—as well as executive, planning, finance, and operations personnel from organizations that have some involvement with passenger rail.

It isn’t too late to register for the Transportation and Transportation Security Law Section’s Passenger Rail Seminar happening in Washington, D.C., on November 15, 2019. We will have onsite registration available and you can reduce wait time by filling out the registration form in advance www.fedbar.org/Image-Library/Events/2019-Passenger-Rail/Rail19-Onsite-Reg-Form. Onsite registration will open at 8:00 a.m. on the 8th floor of the FHI360 Conference Center in Dupont Circle (1825 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington, DC 20009).

For further information about this dynamic conference impacting a variety of practice areas, including finance, real estate, accounting, business, environment, and safety, visit www.fedbar.org/rail19. This full-day seminar is designed for both new and experienced attorneys to better understand the essential legal policies and principles for the passenger rail industry. We look forward to seeing you at the Passenger Rail Seminar!


About the Author

Stacy Slotnick, Esq. holds a J.D., cum laude, from Touro Law Center and a B.A., summa cum laude, from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. She performs a broad range of duties as an entertainment lawyer, including drafting and negotiating contracts; addressing and litigating trademark, copyright, patent, and other IP issues; and directing the strategy and implementation of public relations, blogging, and social media campaigns.

About the FBA

Founded in 1920, the Federal Bar Association is dedicated to the advancement of the science of jurisprudence and to promoting the welfare, interests, education, and professional development of all attorneys involved in federal law. Our more than 16,000 members run the gamut of federal practice: attorneys practicing in small to large legal firms, attorneys in corporations and federal agencies, and members of the judiciary. The FBA is the catalyst for communication between the bar and the bench, as well as the private and public sectors. Visit us at fedbar.org to learn more.