Features

Jack Garfinkle – PECO Energy

Filling Philadelphia and its people with energy

Sure, there are plenty of people who say Corbin Bernsen’s best role was playing Roger Dorn in the “Major League” trilogy. Or when he was Henry Spencer for 120 episodes of “Psych.”

But for most people, Bernsen’s most recognizable and most acclaimed part was when he portrayed Arnie Becker for all eight seasons of the hit TV series “L.A. Law”—a show so heralded that the New York Times called it “television’s most serious attempt to date to portray American law and the people who practice it.”

Growing up, Jack Garfinkle often found himself in front of the TV when “L.A. Law” was on. As he watched Bernsen, Harry Hamlin and Blair Underwood strut their stuff for McKenzie, Brackman, Chaney and Kuzak, and in the courtroom, he thought being a lawyer seemed like an interesting profession.

While he’s hasn’t exactly followed in the footsteps of Bernsen’s Becker, Garfinkle has carved out a place for himself in the legal field as the associate general counsel for Philadelphia-based PECO Energy, a part of Exelon Corp.

Changes in energy and the energy industry

Working with regulatory specialists, accountants, finance and others, Garfinkle helps PECO implement policies that power homes throughout southeastern Pennsylvania.

“Safety is our highest priority, but it is our primary mission to keep everyone’s lights on and gas flowing,” he says. “It’s our mandate, and we take it very seriously.”

There are so many ways to power things, including wind and solar, and they bring with them unique legal challenges, like constantly changing regulations and protocols. Garfinkle and the legal team at PECO constantly review legislative changes and update company policy and requirements to keep the business in compliance.

“I enjoy being at the intersection of politics, government and law,” he says.

Riding out some storms

Garfinkle has been with PECO for more than a decade—and has worked through several major weather events—but the biggest challenge he’s faced was Hurricane Sandy, which wreaked havoc on the Eastern Seaboard in late 2012.

It was an all-hands-on-deck effort, Garfinkle says, with power outages and the loss of infrastructure difficult to handle.

“We had lawyers coming in to fill non-legal roles, and we’d be sitting with customers and trying to help them in any way possible,” Garfinkle remembers.

In light of problems encountered during Sandy—and changes in technology—PECO customers can now report outages online and receive up-to-date information on repairs and service restoration through the company’s website and social media platforms.

“It’s humbling to sit with a customer when they don’t have power,” Garfinkle says. “Anything we can do to help them remain calm, comfortable and up to speed is an important part of our role.”

“We had lawyers coming in to fill non-legal roles, and we’d be sitting with customers and trying to help them in any way possible,” Garfinkle remembers.

In light of problems encountered during Sandy—and changes in technology—PECO customers can now report outages online and receive up-to-date information on repairs and service restoration through the company’s website and social media platforms.

“It’s humbling to sit with a customer when they don’t have power,” Garfinkle says. “Anything we can do to help them remain calm and comfortable and up to speed is an important part of our role.”

A career in law

Garfinkle graduated summa cum laude from Brandeis University with a degree in politics and minors in philosophy and modern German literature. He immediately took his talents to the University of Pennsylvania Law School, where he was managing editor of the Comparative Labor Law Journal.

After law school, he became an associate in the corporate group at Hughes Hubbard & Reed, a New York City-based firm. From there, he moved to Pepper Hamilton and then in-house to ICG Commerce, where he served as the director of legal affairs for a year and helped guide the company through several rounds of financing.

Unlike most attorneys who stay in-house once they take that path, Garfinkle left his in-house position and returned to Pepper Hamilton LLP, where he stayed for nearly eight years—including the last three as a partner—before joining Exelon Corporation in Philadelphia in November 2009.

“Exelon is a great place to work with a strong commitment to pro bono work, and we spend a lot of time trying to make this a very pleasant workplace for everyone,” Garfinkle says.

When not handling legal matters for Exelon, Garfinkle, who is married and has a son in college and a daughter in high school, serves on the board of the Walnut Street Theatre. He enjoys traveling the world with his family, and so far, he’s visited cities and states across the U.S., as well as Central America, the Caribbean, Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

View this feature in the Vanguard Summer III 2021 Edition here.

Published on: January 27, 2021

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