The Catholic University of America

The article below, that refers frequently to Catholic University's Communications Law Institute and some of its prominent alumni, was published in Communications Daily, a widely read industry newsletter that describes itself as "the nation's preeminent daily telecom news source." Considered a must-read by the nation's telecom leaders, the newsletter provides its readers with immediate coverage of telecom regulation, legislation, policy and business. Comm Daily is the only subscription publication that the Federal Communications Commission provides to all its employees.

'96 Act, Telecom Boom Led to Talented Pool of Young Communications Attorneys

May 21, 2007 - The post-Telecom Act generation of communications attorneys is populous and prosperous, drawn to the industry by a new legislative environment and subsequent telecom and tech booms, according to lawyers we spoke with. For this collective analysis, Communications Daily decided to profile young attorneys who were mentioned as especially promising by multiple sources -- often off the record -- and the system in which they operate. Many belong to the FCBA Young Lawyers Committee (YLC), open to communications lawyers under 35 or with fewer than 7 years in practice; those were roughly the criteria -- with minor exceptions -- for this article.

Fedeli and Roisman drew mention for their work as well. Roisman, for 2 years FCC Media Bureau Advisor, now works closely at Akin Gump with former FCC Comr. Kathleen Abernathy. Fedeli has been active in cable law. Roisman's immediate YLC predecessor, Jason Friedrich, represents Motorola, teaches at George Washington U.'s School of Media & Public affairs and once interned for former FCC Comr. Susan Ness.

The YLC co-chmn. position, a 2-year term leading automatically to a spot on the FCBA Exec. Council, is great for communications industry exposure and generally presages career success, many FCBA members told us. "It is a great opportunity for young lawyers to get involved in their bar association and learn from people who've been practicing for a long time," said Fedeli, who works in cable regulatory and wireless law. "It worked out as a great social networking tool, and was... very useful in helping me get to know members of the bar at various companies and the FCC," said former YLC co-chmn. Yaron Dori of Hogan & Hartson. That's so, said Ryan Wallach of Wilkie Farr & Gallagher, also a former co-chmn.: "It's easier to shake hands with an advisor or senior legal counsel at a happy hour than the first time you're on the 8th floor and you're making an argument in front of them."

Socializing is no substitute for the work itself, said a prominent telecom attorney. "I don't think [FCBA] activity is a proxy for the kinds of work responsibility [young lawyers] get at their firms," cautioned Bryan Tramont of Wilkinson Barker Knauer, a former FCC chief of staff who now teaches law at Catholic U. (CUA). "People who are effective at the bar may tend to be effective at work, but it's not as day follows night that's bound to happen," he said: FCBA success "could mean law firm success or government success, but it's not a proxy for billable hours." Dori calls the FCBA valuable to "have potential clients and peers get to know what I do." He said bar participation doesn't generate "x number of dollars for me as far as my practice," but it "helps you demonstrate the seriousness with which you're approaching your career -- it's a career for you and not just a job."

One young lawyer whose FCBA community work drew praise from many industry sources was Megan Stull of Wilkie Farr & Gallagher. Stull is active with the FCBA's charity auction, as well as its 501(c)3 charitable foundation, which funds scholarships for local high schoolers and stipends for needy law students. Lawyer after lawyer mentioned Stull early on their lists of "promising" young attorneys, almost always citing her community service. "Clients probably like their attorney [to be] involved with charitable work," she said, and it helps her relationships with other law firms, "whether in partnership or adversarial."

Devin Crock of Birch Horton Bitner drew praise from YLC members for being ambitious and involved, though many said his very young age and inexperience -- he graduated from CUA in 2006 -- makes it too early to predict his career arc.

Govt. Natural Fit

Govt. positions are a natural fit for young lawyers with talent because federal salaries and time demands deflect older attorneys with families. "Obviously, the Hill is a young place," said Lee Carosi, counsel to Sen. McCain (R- Ariz.) for telecom & communications issues. Hill peers and industry consultants cited Carosi as a prominent player among young communications lawyers -- she already has worked at the former U S West with Abernathy, interned for former FCC Chmn. Michael Powell and done major work on the UNE-P proceedings. Carosi said time she spent, pre-law school, in operations at U S West helps her understand telecom legislation's technical aspects. "I can rewire a jack if needed," she joked.

The Catholic U. of America

The Institute for Communications Law Studies at Catholic U. of America (CUA) has been a font of talent, its faculty boasting a disproportionate number of industry leaders teaching or having studied there. Bryan Tramont, who teaches a course there, is cited widely as a telecom industry "recruiter," though many recent graduates said they knew before attending CUA they wanted to be in that field. The Institute is "designed to, and does, attract the leading college students interested in communications law," Tramont said: "There's something incredibly fulfilling about standing in front of a roomful of people passionate about communications law."

Other communications players teaching at CUA: David Irwin, former FCC Common Carrier Bureau stalwart and a co- founder of Irwin, Campbell & Tannenwald, runs the Institute; Robert Corn-Revere taught a First Amendment course until 2003; Erin Dozier and Paul Gallant teach a Media Law course; former FCBA Pres. Peter Shields; Wiley Rein's Scott Delacourt, by YLC standards only recently a "young lawyer" himself, is an adjunct professor; and even Roisman assists Tramont with his class - and says many similar ad hoc "teacher's assistant" relationships exist.

CUA law graduates include Abernathy, who's Practitioner-in-Residence at the law school; Kathleen Ham, managing dir.-federal & regulatory affairs, T-Mobile; Devin Crock of Birch Horton Bitner; PCIA Industry Affairs Mgr. Anne Perkins; TIA Dir.-Govt. Affairs Danielle Jafari; and CTIA Vp-Regulatory Affairs Chris Guttman-McCabe -- the latter 3 termed by Tramont a "nice little triumvirate of trade association activity." -- Ian Martinez