Paul M. Bessette counsels clients on a broad range of matters in the nuclear industry. A former naval nuclear submarine officer and nuclear plant manager, Paul advises electric utilities, reactor developers, investment entities, and other companies across the nuclear fuel cycle. Paul’s work focuses on regulatory and litigation matters before administrative bodies, such as the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), and before federal courts with a specific emphasis on new reactor projects, subsequent license renewal, license amendments, decommissioning, high-level waste storage, medical isotopes, and spent-fuel related claims against the US government.
Paul counsels clients on issues relating to NRC investigations, licensing and enforcement proceedings, nuclear safety and regulatory compliance, and contractual disputes. He is actively involved in the licensing and permitting of new US nuclear facilities, including small modular reactors and a medical isotope facility, and he has been involved in projects evaluating or utilizing all of the NRC licensing options for new facilities. Paul guides clients through the full scope of legal issues associated with nuclear projects, including consideration of safety and environmental matters, preparation of applications, NRC review of those applications, and litigation of applications before the Atomic Safety and Licensing Board and the NRC. After licensing, Paul advises clients on legal and regulatory issues arising during operation.
Paul helps clients prepare and adjudicate applications for other nuclear activities, including renewing or amending reactor operating licenses and other materials licenses, transferring licenses as part of commercial transactions, license changes throughout decommissioning, project due diligence, obtaining licenses related to medical isotope facilities, import/export of nuclear materials, and obtaining licenses for consolidated interim storage facilities for spent nuclear fuel.
Paul also represents numerous clients in multimillion-dollar claims against the government for its failure to accept spent fuel from operating and decommissioning nuclear plants, both in litigation and settlement.
Before joining Morgan Lewis, Paul spent more than 15 years in the energy field as an engineer and a manager. Paul also worked as an engineer for General Electric and as an officer in the US Navy’s submarine program.
Florida Power & Light Company (Turkey Point Units 3 and 4) in obtaining Subsequent License Renewal (SLR), a first-of-a-kind licensing action that will allow the units to operate from 60-80 years beyond their initial licensing dates.
University of Iowa College of Law, 1999, J.D.
Boston University, B.S.
District of Columbia
Awards and Affiliations
Ranked, Energy: Nuclear (Regulatory & Litigation), Nationwide, Chambers USA (2023)
Ranked, Energy: Nuclear (Regulatory & Litigation), USA, Chambers Global (2023)
Recommended, Industry focus: Energy regulation: electric power, The Legal 500 US (2023)
Recommended, Industry focus: Energy regulation: conventional power, The Legal 500 US (2013, 2016, 2018, 2019, 2022)
Recognized, Energy Law, The Best Lawyers in America (2022–2024)
Member, Practice Group of the Year, Energy, Law360 (2016, 2019)
Member, Law Firm of the Year, Energy/Projects: Power (including Renewables), Chambers USA (2018)
Member, Energy Law Firm of the Year, US News & World Report/Best Lawyers (2015)