Rochester-based Harris Beach PLLC has hired attorney John S. Harris as partner to help with its expansion in the New York state capital region.

The firm also recently opened new offices in White Plains and Long Island, and anticipates more clients seeking assistance with permitting, financing and building energy generation.

Harris, who is based in Slingerlands in Albany County, has worked in the capital region for 18 years advising on public finance and energy-related issues. 

Harris previously worked at McKenna Long & Aldridge. In 1992 he joined Plunkett & Jaffe, which merged with McKenna in 2006. He is a member of the New York State and American Bar Associations.

Harris has represented school districts, municipalities, industrial development agencies and other public entities as borrower’s counsel and bond counsel on tax-exempt transactions.

“John’s experience meets our strategic goal to provide clients here in the capital region and on a state-wide basis with expanded services in state and local regulatory matters, energy, economic development, public finance and municipal law,” said Willam M. Flynn, managing partner of Harris Beach capital region’s offices in Albany and Saratoga Springs. “His experience of both public finance and energy-related practice makes it a perfect fit for him joining the firm.”

Harris is a member of the energy industry team and the environmental law practice group.

He is also is a member of the public finance and economic development practice group and the municipalities and quasi-governmental agencies industry team.

“Whether renewable, wind, solar, or fossil-fuel based, most large-scale energy projects that are going to be financed in the next few years are all going to be public-private partnership transactions,” Harris said. “The public finance platform here, coupled with the energy and environmental focus, really made it a very easy decision for me.”

Given the precarious state of New York’s finances, there are going to be challenges for public finance attorneys.

“Harris Beach has a number of very creative lawyers who know how to create innovative legal structures to finance projects on a state and local level. My own experience with representing developers on lease-purchase, affordable housing and privatization initiatives makes it a good fit for me,” Harris said.

“For example, I represented the developer on the lease-purchase financing of the construction of the Department of Environment Conservation headquarters and the State Department of Transportation headquarters in Albany — two projects that are indicative of the type of experience I bring to Harris Beach,” he said.

Harris Beach ranks 122nd among bond counsel firms nationwide so far this year, according to Thomson Reuters.

In 2009 the law firm ranked 69th. So far in 2010, it has advised on eight issues totaling $161.4 million compared to 25 issues for $1.09 billion in all of 2009. In New York, it ranks ninth for the year to date.

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