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Ernest B. Abbott

Of Counsel

Ernest Abbott, of counsel in the Firm's Washington, D.C. office, concentrates his practice in the areas of emergency management and disaster recovery.

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Disasters and Public Health Emergencies – Planning and Preparing for New and Emerging Risks October 13, 2015
Disasters & Public Health Emergencies on Campus: Planning and Preparing for New and Emerging Risks September 16, 2015

Professional Biography

Overview

Mr. Abbott has extensive experience with the laws, regulations, policies and procedures relating to eligibility for federal disaster and mitigation assistance, the coordination of federal, state, local, non-profit and private sector responders in catastrophic events, and the elements of the National Flood Insurance Program, including insurance, floodplain mapping and floodplain management. Mr. Abbott assists his clients with issues pertaining to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Public Assistance Program, homeland security, the Hazard Mitigation Disaster Grant Program, flood insurance rate maps, public health emergency laws, disallowance and Office of Inspector General (OIG) audits.

Mr. Abbott is well versed in the administrative appeals process under FEMA's Public Assistance program, and he regularly represents applicants for public assistance in the arbitration process promulgated by Section 601 of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

Mr. Abbott is a former general counsel of FEMA. In that role, he managed all FEMA regulatory development and coordinated the legislative program for all FEMA agencies. He led expedited development of regulations to implement the Cerro Grande Fire Assistance Act, which created a new $500 million FEMA compensation program. Mr. Abbott developed and implemented an integrated litigation and regulatory program to protect the National Flood Insurance Program from punitive damage awards. He also created the FEMA Office of Dispute Resolution in the Office of General Counsel, which received special mention by the Justice Department. He has extensive regulatory experience with the management of critical infrastructure.

Prior to his role at FEMA, Mr. Abbott worked as managing deputy general counsel of a $3 billion diversified natural gas company, where he led negotiations on a 275 billion cubic-foot international natural gas purchase contract and on the gas processing and liquids transportation aspects of the $500 million sale of a gas liquids business. He has experience in toxic tort litigation and environmental corporate compliance programs. Mr. Abbott has also worked at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Interstate Commerce Commission.

Professional Honors & Activities
  • Professorial Lecturer in Law, Disaster Law Course – George Washington Law School, Washington D.C. (2011 – present)
  • Editorial Board Member – Journal of Homeland Security and Emergency Management (JHSEM) (2008 – present)
  • Member – American Bar Association
    • Special Advisor – Special Committee on Disaster Response and Recovery (2006 – present)
    • Council Member – Section of State and Local Government Law (2003 – 2007) and Chair of its Committee on Emergency Management and Homeland Security (2002 – 2009)
    • Chair – Multi-Section Task Force on Homeland Security (2005 – 2007)
    • Member – Hurricane Katrina Task Force (2005 – 2006)
  • Associate Member – National Emergency Management Association
    • Private Sector Liaison, Legal Committee
  • United States Soccer Federation
    • Referee (1989 – present)
    • Associate Referee Instructor (2003 – 2014)
  • Cathedral Choral Society
    • President
    • Chair of Music and Program Committee of the Board of Trustees
    • Second Bass
  • Great Falls United Methodist Church
    • Treasurer (2002 – 2006)
    • Chair, Personnel Committee (1997 – 2001)
  • Trustee – Arlington Temple United Methodist Church (2007 – present)
Publications
Speaking Engagements
  • "Join Baker Donelson for the 10th Annual ABA Homeland Security Law Institute" (August, 2015)
  • Moderator – "National Response and Recovery Framework: Legal Considerations in Emergency Management," 10th Annual ABA Homeland Security Law Institute, Washington, D.C. (August, 2015)
  • "Ensuring Reimbursement by FEMA," American Public Power Association' 2015 National Conference, Minneapolis, Minnesota (June, 2015)
  • Panelist – "FEMA's Public Assistance Program," 2015 National Hurricane Conference in Austin, Texas (March, 2015)
  • "Update on De-obligation of FEMA Funding," National League of Cities (September, 2014)
  • Facilitator – "Hospital Executives and Disasters: A Stakeholder Meeting," The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Healthcare Preparedness Activity and the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (November, 2013)
  • Panelist – "Disasters: Thinking About the Unthinkable," American Bar Association, Section of State and Local Government Law, Section of Litigation, Standing Committee on Disaster Response and Preparedness (October, 2013)
  • "Review of Disaster Law," Journal of Homeland Security and Emergency Management (2011)

Education

  • Harvard University School of Law, J.D., 1976, magna cum laude
  • Harvard University Kennedy School of Government, M.P.P., 1976
  • Swarthmore College, B.A., 1972, with high honors

Admissions

  • District of Columbia Bar, 1977
  • Massachusetts Bar, 1977
  • Texas Bar, 1985

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