Manufacturing is the engine which powers the economy—whether it’s energy to fuel our cars or heat our homes, innovative technologies designed to improve efficiency or entertain, or the countless everyday products which shape our lives and define our lifestyles.
McAfee & Taft’s Manufacturing and Logistics Industry Group understands the importance of keeping this important economic engine running as efficiently and profitably as possible. This multidisciplinary group consists of lawyers with specific knowledge, insight and understanding of the industry as well as the proven ability to apply their expertise in the areas of corporate, international, regulatory, labor and employment, litigation, intellectual property, real estate and tax matters to provide legal services and sound business counseling to clients from the beginning to the end of any project.
Our clients include manufacturers and distributors of products for a broad range of other economic sectors, including the aerospace and aviation, agriculture, automotive, biotechnology, chemical and petrochemical, commercial and industrial products, consumer products, construction, defense, energy, food, healthcare, machinery and heavy equipment, pharmaceutical and medical device, pipeline and refinery, retail, transportation, and utility industries.
In addition to representing manufacturers of products, our firm has extensive experience representing clients who manage and handle the logistics of getting those products to the marketplace. These include transportation providers (via pipeline, motor carriers, rail, water, air), distributors, dealers, utilities, service providers, and transportation intermediaries (forwarders, industry associations, property brokers and logistics consultants).
Comprehensive Legal and Business Services
Environmental, Health, Safety and Security
A significant portion of our work in the manufacturing and logistics industry involves representing clients in a broad range of regulatory matters. For example, our environmental experience includes representing clients in administrative proceedings before state and federal regulatory agencies as well as handling litigation involving contaminated sites, cost recovery litigation, and insurance recovery related to environmental clean-ups. Our litigators are assisted by environmental lawyers degreed in technical areas, some with extensive prior experience as staff of federal environmental enforcement agencies. More importantly, our lawyers have the experience to counsel clients to avoid and manage environmental issues.
Safety issues are handled similarly, with auditing programs to detect and prevent violations, combined with the skills to manage all types of OSHA issues.
With the ever-growing emphasis on security, our team is at the forefront of advising clients on compliance with security requirements, and providing a trusted interface with the regulating agencies.
Corporate, Business and Growth Strategies
The firm’s attorneys have significant experience counseling manufacturing and logistics clients on a wide range of corporate, transactional, real estate and operational issues. The firm’s attorneys frequently assist clients with business formation and entity selection, corporate governance, business financing, mergers and acquisitions, real estate and development, zoning and land use, facility and equipment leasing, economic development and governmental incentives, long-term supply and distribution contracts, purchase orders and purchase agreements, outsourcing agreements, marketing and licensing agreements, custom manufacturing agreements, warranty issues, product recalls, business restructuring and workouts, debtor and creditor rights, and antitrust and trade regulation. We also counsel clients on best operating practices for maximizing opportunities for growth while minimizing liabilities and exposures.
Originating as a tax-oriented law firm 60 years ago, McAfee & Taft is uniquely qualified to assist clients with the highly complex tax issues which permeate the manufacturing industry. As our familiarity and understanding of a manufacturing client’s business grows, we work closely with the owners, top executives and controller to provide proactive integrated tax planning. Our tax attorneys consult regarding state-of-the-art succession planning, as well as income tax, state and federal tax credits, sales and use tax, and asset protection planning. We are frequently engaged to provide advice concerning tax-sensitive restructurings or reorganizations and tax-effective acquisitions and dispositions. Our attorneys appear frequently on behalf of manufacturing clients at all administrative levels and in court against the Internal Revenue Service and Oklahoma Tax Commission. Unitary business issues, multi-state taxation, goodwill, licensing and royalty matters are areas where we are called upon frequently to consult, expanding our tax practice across the nation and internationally. We assist in resolving conflict among owners, addressing buy/sell arrangements, and funding buy-out obligations using life insurance. We have extensive experience in corporate organizational matters, retirement planning and executive compensation.
As tax professionals, we understand too well that the tax laws are in a near constant state of change and that even simple tax compliance can present unprecedented challenges. We strive to be vital and valued members of the manufacturing client’s team.
Litigation and Dispute Resolution
Business Disputes – Our lawyers have a wealth of experience in prosecuting and defending complex business disputes frequently involving multiparty litigation (or class actions) in multiple jurisdictions at one time. These complex cases may involve corporate governance, contests for corporate control, complex business relationships, including franchises, intellectual property, unfair trade practices or any number of other complicated commercial issues.
Administrative and Regulatory Matters – The firm has a working relationship with the agencies that regulate manufacturing and logistic industries in Oklahoma, such as the Oklahoma Corporation Commission and Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality, in addition to federal administrative agencies and sub-agencies such as the U.S. Department of Transportation (Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration), Department of Labor (Occupational Health and Safety Administration), Federal Trade Commission, Department of Justice, Department of Defense (Army Corps of Engineers), and the Environmental Protection Agency.
Intellectual Property – The firm assists clients in protecting and enforcing their rights in patented inventions and technology, trademarked products and services, copyrighted works, confidential and proprietary trade secrets, negotiated license agreements and other business agreements involving intellectual property assets.
Product Liability Defense – Our lawyers have defended thousands of trials and appeals of wrongful death, catastrophic personal injury and other product liability claims brought against product manufacturers, including numerous Fortune 100 manufacturing companies who have been sued in Oklahoma and nationally. Key to our success is our personal knowledge and understanding of how products work and how they are designed, tested and manufactured. In addition to having ready access to experts and investigators who will assist us in defending your product, we are also skilled at working with in-house engineers, scientists and quality control professionals and understand how to assist them in effectively communicating the design and manufacturing process to a jury.
Employment, Labor and Employee Benefits
Our firm represents and counsels employers on a wide spectrum of matters involving employment and labor law, employee benefits and workplace safety. This frequently encompasses such issues as Fair Labor Standards Act compliance, hiring and interviewing techniques, discipline and termination, independent contractor agreements, discrimination and retaliation claims, drug and alcohol testing, occupational safety and health compliance, and management and supervisor training.
For unionized employers, we have extensive experience negotiating collective bargaining agreements with labor unions, defending unfair labor claims before the National Labor Relations Board, handle strike-related disputes, and counsel employers on discipline and discharge grievances as well as arbitrate and litigate such claims. We also counsel non-unionized manufacturing companies on union avoidance strategies and union organizing campaigns.
Our employee benefits attorneys assist manufacturers of all sizes in designing and administering health and welfare plans, qualified and non-qualified retirement plans, and employee stock ownership plans (ESOPs) to help employers attract and retain talented and motivated employees. We also advise clients on all areas of executive compensation, including equity compensation arrangements (such as stock option, phantom stock and restricted stock award plans), long-term incentive awards and supplemental retirement plans.
Much of our work also involves helping clients reduce expenses as well as minimize risks and financial liabilities. In the area of health and welfare plans, we assist manufacturing companies in analyzing plan design and developing strategies, such as wellness programs, to reduce costs. We also counsel employers on legal compliance, COBRA, HIPAA, and funding and taxation issues; litigate plan-related claims; and manage the employee benefits and compensation aspects of merger and acquisition transactions for which the firm provides corporate legal services.
Inventions, Licensing and Brand Management
McAfee & Taft’s intellectual property attorneys assist clients in enhancing revenue, protecting competitive positions, and maximizing brand value by securing and defending their rights to valuable inventions and technology, trademarks and copyrights, and license agreements. In addition to preparing and prosecuting patent applications both in the United States and worldwide, our patent attorneys provide industry clients with infringement, freedom to operate, and other legal opinions relating to intellectual property rights and frequently counsel clients on how best to protect their confidential and proprietary information as trade secrets.