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Index of tables

  1. Telecoms and broadcast: regulatory
  2. Leading lawyers

Leading lawyers

  1. 1

Attorneys named in this section are based in Washington DC unless stated otherwise.

Covington & Burling LLP is renowned for its regulatory capabilities in the telecoms and broadcast sectors, thanks in no small part to prominent figures Yaron Dori, Jennifer Johnson and Mace Rosenstein. Rosenstein - an expert in both traditional and new media, as well as telecommunications - recently represented a coalition of media companies including CBS Corporation, The Walt Disney Company, 21st Century Fox, and Time Warner, among others, in a Circuit case in which the court threw out the FCC’s order requiring media companies to disclose their programming contracts with pay-TV providers. In another highlight, Dori led for longstanding client CenturyLink on the company’s appeal of the FCC’s Inmate Calling Order. In addition to providing counsel to telecoms and broadband service providers on FCC rulemaking proceedings and enforcement investigations, the practice is also representing numerous clients, including the four largest incumbent holders of broadcast spectrum, before the Executive Branch, the US Congress and the FCC in connection with the US government’s plans to conduct its first-ever ‘incentive auction’, which involves a reverse auction to reclaim broadcast television spectrum, the forward auction of that spectrum for wireless use, and the repacking of the remaining broadcast spectrum among television stations across the country.

John Nakahata heads the team at Harris, Wiltshire & Grannis LLP, which is noted for its outstanding skills and knowledge in the fields of appellate litigation and telecoms, technology, and media regulations, and for its highly experienced team of former policymakers, legislative advisors, and senior government regulators including Mark Grannis, William Wiltshire, Paul Margie and Christopher Wright. The practice routinely acts for hi-tech companies, service providers and equipment manufacturers, including DirecTV, Google, Microsoft, and Broadcom. Kristine Laudadio Devine was recently promoted to partner.

Hogan Lovells US LLP’s communications group, which is headed by the outstanding Michele Farquhar, who is particularly known for her wireless, telecoms, wireline, media and online communications expertise. The practice has an extensive track record in FCC cases and its attorneys are regularly called on to handle complex regulatory policies and issues. In a recent highlight, Farquhar acted alongside partners Ari Fitzgerald and Trey Hanbury and senior adviser Tom Peters for T-Mobile on the client’s development of rules and policies for the 600 MHz incentive auction. Farquhar and Mark Brennan are advising Gogo, a leader for in-flight connectivity and wireless in-flight digital entertainment, in FCC proceedings concerning proposals to auction 14 GHz air-to-ground wireless services, which covers a range of spectrum and satellite issues; and on the FCC’s Open Internet rulemaking proceeding.

Kellogg, Huber, Hansen, Todd, Evans & Figel, P.L.L.C. has a wealth of experience in regulatory, appellate, litigation and intellectual property matters for major TMT clients including Verizon and AT&T. Managing partner Michael Kellogg is a specialist in all matters appellate, regulatory and antitrust law, and Scott Angstreichis highly experienced in the field of telecoms regulation, as well as serving as a member of the DC Circuit’s Advisory Committee on Procedures.

Latham & Watkins LLP leverages its expertise in telecoms matters to covers the full spectrum of regulatory, contentious and transactional work, including advising on net neutrality rulemaking and appellate proceedings, as well as undertaking complex litigation for telecoms providers. The practice successfully represented Cox Communications in recent class action litigation in the Western District of Oklahoma against a group of Cox cable subscribers. Matthew Brill, who recently succeeded John Janka as the chair for the global communications law practice, is providing ongoing advice to Time Warner Cable on a broad range of legal matters relating to the company’s cable television, broadband internet access and digital telephone services. In a recent highlight Brill, together with industry group co-head James Barker, advised Time Warner Cable on its compliance with video, voice, and broadband regulations, and defended it against net neutrality complaints brought under the FCC’s Open Internet Order rules. The firm is also acting for Lightsquared in a contested bankruptcy reorganization process and in the negotiation of new credit facilities. Fellow co-head James Gorton is also recommended.

Wiley Rein LLP’s ‘superlative and extremely impressive’ group is ‘head and shoulders above the rest’, and clients value it for its ‘unparalleled industry knowledge and ‘on target’ advice and counsel’. Based in Washington DC, Kathleen Kirby and Michael Senkowski’s team regularly acts for telecoms companies, local carriers, industry associations, satellite companies, manufacturers, broadcasters and investment institutions, who benefit from its attorneys’ experience as former FCC chairmen, commissioners, general counsels and chiefs of staff. The firm is often called on to act for broadcast and telecoms giants such as Deutsche Telekom, CenturyLink, DirecTV, Samsung, CBS, and Comcast, with a variety of public policy issues. Recent highlights include Bennett Ross’ advice to Vermont Telephone on issues arising from a spectrum auction, which involved challenging an attempt by DISH to take advantage of bidding credits usually reserved for small businesses. Jennifer Hindin and Senkowski advised key client AT&T Services on FCC satellite issues arising from its acquisition of DirecTV. While partners, Shawn Chang, a former chief democratic counsel on communications and technology policies for the House Energy and Commerce Committee, joined the firm as of counsel. Other key figures include Richard Wiley, Robert McDowell, the ‘detail-oriented and professional’ Claire Evans, and Christopher Huther, who is described as ‘a particularly good individual with unmatched knowledge of the industry and a thorough understanding of the regulatory environment’. Dominic Bodensteiner and Todd Stansbury left the firm in 2015.

Wilkinson Barker Knauer LLP is an ‘outstanding, service-oriented, and extremely responsive’ team with ‘a deep and experienced bench of attorneys’; ‘it is the law firm you want on your side when you really need strategic advice’. Its telecoms and broadcast practice was further strengthened by the arrival in 2015 of Verizon’s former deputy general counsel John Scott and communications and media expert Howard Liberman, who joined from Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP. Bryan Tramont (who is considered ‘among the most connected, respected and strategic communications attorneys in the field’) heads the team, which includes a number of lawyers who have previously held senior positions at the FCC and which spans the gamut of telecoms and broadcast matters. In highlight matters, Russell Hanser, David Solomon and Adam Krinsky acted for a number of broadband ISP clients in connection with open internet proceedings, while Solomon and Krinsky acted for Verizon Communications and Verizon Wireless on the FCC’s recent review of policies addressing potential limits on FCC-licensed mobile spectrum holdings. The pair, acting alongside Tramont and Ken Satten, also represented Comcast Corporation and NBCUniversal before the FCC in connection with various transactions including the planned sale of cable systems to Charter Communications.

Maureen Jeffreys and Patrick Grant jointly lead Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer LLP’s telecoms, internet and media practice group; Grant brings over 35 years of experience counseling commercial and non-commercial clients across a wide spectrum of legislative, litigation, and administrative proceedings. In a recent highlight, Jeffreys represented AT&T, for which she acts as lead FCC regulatory partner, on obtaining regulatory approval for its acquisition of DirectTV. Scott Feira and Peter Schildkraut advised the same client in connection with the acquisition of spectrum license deals to expand its wireless network capacity. The practice also advised Harris Corporation on the regulatory issues arising from its proposed acquisition of Exelis, which involved performing due diligence on FCC licenses and overseeing FCC regulatory approval. William Cook is another key practitioner in the group who comes highly recommended.

Cooley LLP’s ‘excellent’ practice handles the full remit of matters for commercial broadcasters and cable television clients, and has established a strong focus on wireless and satellite issues as well as equipment authorization, device regulation and spectrum licensing. Michael Hays and the ‘determined, dedicated and hardworking’ Anne Swanson advised Garmin International on its successful attempt to challenge a proposed high-powered terrestrial broadband service by LightSquared, which would have effectively caused overload interference to GPS navigation services. The group also acted as regulatory counsel to Granite Broadcasting in connection with the $300m sale of its television stations to Quincy Publishing. Group head John Feore and Kevin Mills led on that matter and acted alongside Michael Basile on the regulatory aspects of the proposed $2.4bn merger between the firm’s client Meredith Corporation and Media General.

Jenner & Block LLP supplements its Washington DC-based regulatory capability with a broad global footprint that places ‘the telecoms regulatory practice at the top of the field’. In a demonstration of its national reach, Samuel Feder, Luke Platzer and Adam Unikowsky won an appellate victory for Comcast before the Vermont Supreme Court regarding whether or not the Vermont Public Service Board has jurisdiction to regulate interconnected VoIP services. The practice is also advising longstanding client Charter Communications on obtaining FCC and state commission approval for several transactions as well as representing the client in FCC proceedings concerning the right to IP interconnection. Former Department of Justice chief privacy officer Nancy Libin joined the nine-partner team in October 2015. Feder and John Flynn jointly head the practice and are described as ‘truly special: each possesses an incredible breadth of knowledge regarding federal and state regulation, but also pairs that expertise with litigation skills, business acumen and a client-friendly approach’.

Kelley Drye & Warren LLP has earned its reputation acting for universal service funds and wireless lifeline service providers in connection with audits, investigations and enforcement matters, as well as on data privacy and security cases. Tom Cohen is representing the American Cable Association before the FCC in regard to the FCC’s overhaul of the Universal Service Fund. In another highlight, Henry Kelly and Steve Augustino represented DISH Network in litigation initiated by the US government on behalf of the FTC and the states of North Carolina, Illinois, Ohio, and California concerning civil penalties for violations of the TCPA, the FTC’s Telemarketing Sales Rule, and related state statutes. John Heitmann heads the 13-partner team and also serves as co-chair of the Federal Communications Bar Association’s privacy and data security committee.

Gina Keeney, Gregory Lawler, Charles Logan, and Richard Metzger are among the key figures of Lawler, Metzger, Keeney & Logan, LLC’s ‘very responsive and very strong’ practice group, which continues to advise flagship client Comcast on a wide range of FCC issues, including assisting the client with its provision of VoIP services, advising it on the FCC’s open internet rulemaking, and acting as regulatory counsel pertaining to Comcast’s aborted merger with Time Warner Cable. In another highlight, Steve Berman advised one of the bidders on regulatory issues related to the FCC’s advanced wireless services spectrum auction. Emily Daniels is also recommended.

Paul Hastings LLP’s telecoms and broadcast team is noted for its outstanding regulatory credentials, and, in 2015, it gained the National Association of Broadcasters, Meredith Corporation, and Tegna as new clients; they join an already impressive roster that includes names such as Allbritton Communications, Bank of America and Citigroup. Practice head Eric Greenberg advised Tegna on the developing area of channel sharing, and acted alongside Matthew Gibson on advice to Allbritton Communications regarding the $985m deal sale of its equity interests in Perpetual Corporation and Charleston Television to Sinclair Broadcast. Media regulatory expert Sherrese Smith, who joined the firm from the FCC where she acted as chief counsel to the FCC’s chairman, is assisting the National Association of Broadcasters with regard to media ownership restrictions.

Frederick Beckner and Christopher Shenk jointly head Sidley Austin LLP’s communications regulatory practice following the departure in 2015 of David Lawson to take up the position of senior vice president and assistant general counsel at longstanding firm client AT&T. A team including Beckner, highly recognized general and appellate litigator Peter Keisler, and Jim Young acted for the client in an appellate court case before the District of Columbia Court of Appeals challenging the FCC’s Net Neutrality Order. The practice also represented the telecoms giant before the FCC in regard to the broadcast television spectrum incentive auction. Other clients include Facebook, Morgan Stanley, Tribune Company, and GE Capital. Mark Schneider and Marc Korman are advising the last client on various FCC rules and regulations, including advice on regulatory rules impacting telecoms, radio, television, wireless and other businesses. In 2015, the firm opened a new office in Century City to act as a hub for the firm’s global media, entertainment and digital technology practice.

At Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP, Ivan Schlager, John Beahn and Joshua Gruenspecht are advising Time Warner Cable on its proposed merger with Charter Communications, which includes reviewing FCC regulatory approval requirements, and analyzing feasibility and regulatory issues related to alternate bids. The firm is also acting for key client Nokia on the regulatory aspects of its $16.6bn acquisition of telecoms equipment manufacturer Alcatel Lucent. Other blue-chip clients include Viacom and 21st Century Fox.

Steptoe & Johnson LLP’s Washington DC office forms the hub of the firm’s eight-partner telecoms and broadcast practice, headed by Pantelis Michalopoulos, who is noted for his experience in representing telecoms, wireless and satellite companies in licensing, rulemaking, and complaint proceedings before the FCC. Michalopoulos and Stephanie Roy advised DISH Network on its successful opposition to the Comcast-Time Warner Cable merger. The practice is also advising the same client on several spectrum and licensing applications before the FCC and on various aspects of its entry into terrestrial wireless services, including the reorganization of Dish Wireless. In another highlight, Markham Erickson represented Netflix before the FCC concerning the Commission’s consideration of the open internet rule and order, and also represented it in successfully opposing the motion to stay the open internet order before the US Court of Appeals. The team, which includes the New York-based Michael Vatis, was recently joined by of counsel Alan Cohn.

Carl Northrop heads the ‘extremely outstanding’ team at Telecommunications Law Professionals, which is ‘very knowledgeable of the telecoms regulatory environment’. In 2015, the practice, which routinely acts for broadband service providers, broadcasting companies, financial institutions, equipment manufacturers, and hi-tech start-ups, strengthened its market position with new clients including Wireless Solution, Orion Wireless and Iowa Wireless Services. Northrop and Michael Lazarus represented the latter client in a major wireless roaming dispute with AT&T, which involved formal complaint proceedings before the FCC and arbitration proceedings in Chicago. In other highlights, Lazarus is acting for the Competitive Carriers Association in several regulatory policy issues that are pending before the FCC, and Ash Johnston is continuing to act as federal regulatory counsel for Orion Wireless in regard to the FCC’s Auction 97.

WilmerHale’s Heather Zachary heads the communications practice, which includes federal communications law specialist Kelly Dunbar and cybersecurity, privacy and communications experts Benjamin Powell and Reed Freeman. Zachary acted as lead counsel to AT&T on net neutrality issues before the FCC; advised it on an appeal of FCC orders regarding the comprehensive reform of intercarrier compensation and universal service frameworks; and continued to assist it with the reclassification of broadband internet access services from Title I ‘information services’ to Title II ‘telecommunications services’. Other key clients include Verizon and Bose.

Arent Fox LLP’s practice handles a broad array of transactional work within the telecoms and broadcast industry, but it is best known for its reputation in the areas of FCC regulation, litigation and commercial agreements for telecoms and technology companies. The practice has a particular focus on cloud agreements, and recently advised Internet2, a not-for-profit networking consortium, on a wide variety of commercial contracts and agreements, as well as representing the client in FCC proceedings. In another highlight, Michael Hazzard successfully defended CallFire, a California-based provider of cloud telephony services, in a class action lawsuit that claimed the company violated both the federal Telephone Consumer Protection Act and Washington State law. Alan Fishel leads the firm’s communications, technology and mobile group, which includes Stephanie Joyce, an expert in business and consumer protection litigation within the telecoms industry.

Cahill Gordon & Reindel LLP’s Washington DC office acts as a hub for the firm’s communications department, which is jointly led by Chérie Kiser (‘a wonderful communicator who not only has great expertise in a very complicated area, but is capable of explaining issues in a way that the uninitiated can clearly understand’) and regulatory expert Angela Collins. The team is praised for ‘providing excellent and trusted service’ and ‘responding quickly, thoughtfully, and knowledgeably with efficiency and practicality’. Recent highlights include representing key client Cable One before several state courts, state agencies, and the FCC in connection with its video, VoIP, and internet access services; and advising Polycom on the structure and content of its customer service agreements as well as the negotiation of the telecoms carrier and colocation contracts for its tele-presence business.

Dentons’ ‘proactive and attentive’ practice group represents some of the industry leaders in the field of telecoms, including wireless carriers, mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs), competitive wireline carriers, and cable operators including T-Mobile, XO Communications, Nokia Solutions and Networks, and Sony. Highlights included advising Luxottica on its acquisition of telecoms and broadband-related services from AT&T. The firm is also providing ongoing advice to Time Warner Cable, TerraCom and YourTel on compliance with federal and state regulations. Key figures include Megan Delany and department head Todd Daubert, who is praised ‘for his acuteness and understanding’.

Jones Day’s telecoms and broadcast team is headed by Bruce Olcott, who is an expert in the area of wireless and wireline communications services. The practice has established a niche acting for clients including Escape Dynamics, Teledyne Technologies and Tyvak Nano-Satellite Systems in matters related to international space law; recent highlights include assisting Escape Dynamics with required regulatory approvals before various federal agencies (including the FCC) concerning the development of electromagnetically powered space launch and aerospace propulsion systems. The practice also has extensive knowledge of wireless technology matters, and is advising GE Transportation on the construction of positive train control systems, a new technology aimed at decreasing train accidents, which involves acquiring the necessary radio spectrum rights.

Mayer Brown’s well regarded telecoms, broadcast and satellite practice is led out of Washington DC by Howard Waltzman and former FCC official Angela Giancarlo, who is noted for her experience in domestic and international wireless, satellite and broadband internet regulatory matters. In the wireless sector, the practice provides ongoing legal and strategic advice to CTIA - The Wireless Association on a series of legislative and regulatory initiatives, including the FCC’s implementation and application of the Communications Act of 1934, the Telecommunications Act of 1996, and new spectrum and public policy provisions in the Middle Class Tax Relief Act and Job Creation Act of 2012. Other clients include Wells Fargo Securities and ARRIS.

Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo, P.C.’s telecoms and broadcast practice is renowned for its deep expertise in cable and wireless regulatory matters. In a highlight, the group advised Cablevision on its sale to Netherlands-based Altice, which included the negotiation of the merger agreement, advising on SEC filings, and assisting it with its efforts to secure the necessary FCC, state and local approvals for said transaction. The team was also appointed by T-Mobile to act as counsel on one of the most successful spectrum auctions in the US, which involved advising the client on a number of FCC spectrum auction rules. Tara Corvo heads the nine-partner team and acted as counsel to a number of programming networks, among them Discovery Communications, AMC Networks and MSG Networks, in relation to the FCC’s proposal to change program access rules. Other clients include Cox Communications, Charter Communications, CTIA - The Wireless Association, HBO, the National Cable & Telecommunications Association, and Vevo.

Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP’s telecoms practice ‘is uniquely equipped to handle matters in the spectrum policy arena due to its expertise, years of experience, relationships with policymakers, and global reach’. The practice, which is led by transactional and regulatory telecoms expert Andrew Lipman, now includes nine partners, following the promotions of Timothy Bransford and Frank Lamancusa, and recently provided regulatory advice to Windstream, a Fortune 500 company and provider of advanced network and communications services, in connection with a first-of-its-kind telecoms carrier REIT. In another highlight, Catherine Wang, who is well regarded for her work in wireless technologies, spectrum use, and complex regulated transactions, represented audio equipment manufacturer Shure on issues regarding spectrum policy before the FCC, Congress, and the District of Columbia federal courts. William Wilhelm and Ulises Pin have notable expertise advising VoIP providers and cutting-edge social medial companies, respectively.

Satellite communications, telecoms, broadcast and mass media are all core areas for Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP 12-attorney department, which includes nine partners, among them communications law specialists John Hane, Richard Zaragoza, Glenn Richards and Scott Flick. In a recent highlight, Flick advised Media General on its proposed merger with Meredith Corporation, and the team advised the client on a competing proposal from NexStar. Hane, a leading practitioner in the field of cutting-edge signal retransmission agreements and related laws and policies, assisted Sinclair Broadcast with its adoption of a new technical standard for American broadcasting, and advised DISH Network, the country’s third-largest pay television service provider, on negotiating the rights to retransmit the signals of major television networks and their affiliated stations across the US.

Brian Weimer heads Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton LLP’s four-partner communications practice, which is particularly noted for its cable and satellite industry expertise. It frequently represents clients on litigation and regulatory issues before local, state and international regulatory agencies, including municipal cable franchising authorities, state and federal courts, public service commissions, and international arbitration tribunals. It is assisting Charter Communications with obtaining state and local franchise approvals for its multibillion-dollar merger with Time Warner Cable and its acquisition of cable systems from Bright House Networks. Another highlight saw the group advise KTSAT, a privately-owned Korean satellite operator, on International Telecommunication Union issues and the negotiation of international coordination agreements. The practice also represented the client in an arbitral proceeding against another private satellite owner in regard to questions of ownership of a satellite and related damages. Paul Werner is also highly recommended.

At Squire Patton Boggs, Robert Kelly leads a practice that acts for a heavyweight roster that combines private-sector clients, including Facebook, and public authorities and sovereigns, including the State of Hawaii and the government of Bermuda, for which its lawyers are called on to appear before telecoms regulators worldwide. Paul Besozzi recently advised the Cleveland Municipal School District in connection with the E-rate program (a scheme to connect schools and libraries to broadband systems) which involved handling requests from the Federal Universal Service Fund for having technology equipment installed in newly constructed schools. Also recommended are Monica Desai, Joseph Markoski, Jonathan Nadler and Robert Stup Jr. Carlos Nalda left to set up his own consulting firm, and Kevin Martin joined Facebook.

In an illustration of its presence in the communications and broadcast sector, Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP is regularly called on to handle a rage of regulatory issues for Comcast; 2015 highlights included representing the broadcast giant before several state regulators in connection with FCC regulatory aspects related to its aborted merger with Time Warner Cable, and advising Comcast and NBCUniversal on regulatory compliance issues arising from the 2011 FCC order approving the acquisition of NBCUniversal by Comcast. Thomas Jones heads the practice following former practice head Francis Buono’s departure to join Comcast; Jones, an expert in all things concerning common carrier regulation leads the team, which includes newly promoted partner Michael Hurwitz and Daniel Alvarez, who rejoined the firm’s communications, media and privacy practice following his tenure as legal adviser to the chairman of the FCC.

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