Donald R. Allen, a Founding Partner of Duncan & Allen LLP, died quietly and comfortably on January 19 at Sunrise at East 56th in Manhattan after a 10-year struggle with Parkinson’s Disease.
A native of southern California, Don began his career in Washington, D.C. after college at Cornell and law school at UCLA. Inspired by President John F. Kennedy’s call to “ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country,” Don joined the Executive Office of the President, Bureau of the Budget, in 1967 where he assisted in coordinating policies, budgets and legislative matters pertaining to federal energy and water resource development. In 1969, he joined the small natural resource law firm of Ely & Duncan as an associate where he was first exposed to an exciting practice of domestic and international resource law. In 1970, together with name partner Emerson Duncan and fellow associate Patrick Mitchell, he formed the law firm that is now Duncan & Allen, specializing in the counseling and representation of municipal and cooperative electric systems.
Don quickly rose in prominence and became one of the premier attorneys of the “public power bar” in Washington, D.C. While the new law firm became a leader in its field domestically, in 1972 it opened its first overseas office – in Kinshasa, Zaïre (now the DRC) – which was followed by the opening of offices in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, and Nairobi, Kenya. The firm developed an exotic, innovative and respected international practice that continued until the spin-off of those offices in the late 1980s and beyond.
Don managed the Duncan & Allen law firm during much of his career and developed a specialization in electric transmission law. He was instrumental in numerous innovative projects and cases to expand access to electric transmission service in order to lower the cost of electricity for consumers. After FERC adopted its Order 888 in 1996 requiring transmission owners to adopt and implement open-access transmission tariffs, Don published and annually updated a compendium of all FERC and federal court decisions interpreting the requirements of Order 888. His two-volume Order 888 Handbook became the must-have reference source for legal practitioners dealing with electric transmission issues. Don guided the groundbreaking entry into the electric power business – as the first wholesale electric power broker – of Citizens Energy Corporation founded by Joe Kennedy. Don became the lead outside electric power counsel to Citizens, in which capacity he spearheaded several of its innovative investment projects to expand electric transmission service in constrained areas and distribute the profits to low-income electricity users.
A lover of the opera, symphony and art, Don was drawn to New York City where he spent increasing amounts of time from the mid-1970s on, finally making his home at Battery Park City in 2014. Proud of his Norwegian ancestry, Don organized an extended family reunion in Lillehammer, Norway, in 2010. In the early 2000s, when his daughter’s family was living in Geneva, he began renting the Villa Lo Scrogio in Sarteano, Italy for family vacation reunions. He fell in love with Italy, bought and renovated a small town home in Sarteano (Tuscany), and spent his later active years between there and New York.
Don married Valerie French in February of 1962. They had two children and divorced in 1974. Don subsequently remarried twice but happily spent his last twenty years with Mildred Munich of Floral Park, Long Island. He is survived by his daughter Signe (Allen) Williamson and his son John French Allen and four grandchildren.