New LeClairRyan Legal Group Helps Clients Tap the Potential of Unmanned Aircraft

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Veteran aviation attorneys in firm’s practice group have broad experience in helping businesses and government agencies leverage the power of ‘drones.’

Amid rising interest in unmanned aircraft systems (UAS)—popularly known as “drones”—national law firm LeClairRyan has launched a new practice group geared toward helping clients maximize the creative potential of this fast-growing technology.

“Our new Unmanned Aircraft Systems practice group represents UAS manufacturers and operators—including businesses and government agencies—in the myriad opportunities and emerging issues in this sector,” said Tim Adelman, the new practice group’s leader and a shareholder in LeClairRyan’s Annapolis, Md., office. “We understand the practical aspects of the industry, but are closely tracking the rapidly emerging legal and regulatory landscape as well. The overall goal is to help our clients achieve their objectives even as they minimize risk, difficulties and expense.” Adelman is an instrument-rated, certified flight instructor with broad experience representing UAS manufacturers and users.

“The list of entities eager to explore UAS—everything from e-commerce businesses, to news organizations, to mapping and law-enforcement agencies—lengthens by the day,” noted veteran aviation attorney Douglas McQueen, who is based in LeClairRyan’s Newark, N.J., office. “Meanwhile, both state legislatures and the Federal Aviation Administration continue to promulgate regulations that will promote the safe and sustainable growth of UAS systems.” With more than 11,000 flying hours, McQueen is an experienced commercial airline pilot and a trained airline accident investigator and aircraft dispatcher.

Understanding this rapidly changing landscape requires specific experience. LeClairRyan’s aviation attorneys have represented UAS manufacturers and other entities employing these systems, including state and federal governments, since 2006. A member of the team is credited with obtaining the first jurisdiction-wide certificate of authorization for UAS ever issued by the FAA, which paved the way for public entities across the nation. Members of the team regularly present at UAS-related conferences organized by a wide range of federal government agencies, trade groups and professional associations.

Specific representative matters include:

  • assisting public entities in obtaining certificates of authorization;
  • assisting manufacturers and aircraft operators on certification issues;
  • developing risk-management programs for UAS manufacturers and operators;
  • assisting operators in the development of FAA-compliant training programs;
  • drafting operating procedures in compliance with FAA regulations;
  • assisting manufacturers and end-users in obtaining insurance to cover UAS activities;
  • addressing liability issues arising out of the operation of public aircraft;
  • drafting lease agreements for unmanned aircraft systems;
  • drafting memoranda of understanding related to shared use by government agencies;
  • advising clients on matters related to privacy concerns associated with UAS operation; and
  • educating law enforcement personnel on various regulatory requirements.

About LeClairRyan
As a trusted advisor, LeClairRyan provides business counsel and client representation in corporate law and litigation. In this role, the firm applies its knowledge, insight and skill to help clients achieve their business objectives while managing and minimizing their legal risks, difficulties and expenses. With offices in California, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Washington, D.C., the firm has approximately 350 attorneys representing a wide variety of clients throughout the nation. For more information about LeClairRyan, visit

Press Contacts: At Parness & Associates Public Relations, Bill Parness, (732) 290-0121, bparness(at)parnesspr(dot)com or Marty Gitlin, (631) 765-8519, mgitlin(at)parnesspr(dot)com.

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