FCC Attorney

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Renne Walker
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FCC Attorney

Postby Renne Walker » Wed Aug 03, 2011 11:33 am

As an 0L, I have read very little on TLS about those entering the legal field as an FCC attorney (for the private sector).

This is a field where an attorney can become a solo practitioner by securing one substantial client (and I don’t mean NBC). Every radio and TV station (group or small) has an FCC attorney. Aside from being on retainer to keep clients informed of changing FCC rules and regs there is the highly lucrative area of negotiating buy/sell agreements. 99% of these transactions are boilerplate, aside from due-diligence, price, certain terms, etc. It usually takes two-four weeks to complete a transaction (plus another 90 days for final FCC approval).

I posted this under “employment” thinking that a few TLS grads (or SAs) might offer advice or share their experience―especially those who have either ventured into this field through BigLaw, or are applying to BigLaw firms. My guess is that most FCC attorneys in this field work out of DC (usually to build relationships with the FCC commissioners and their staff), do you agree. Thanks.

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vanwinkle
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Re: FCC Attorney

Postby vanwinkle » Wed Aug 03, 2011 11:40 am

Okay. When you say "FCC attorney", what comes to mind is "an attorney that works for the FCC". What it sounds like you're talking about is someone hired as counsel to do "regulatory compliance", meaning they'll help their client comply with FCC regs.

A "substantial client" is going to want competent counsel. That means people who already have experience. As a law student, your primary goal would be to get a job at a firm that does regulatory work, which from what I understand, are most concentrated and easily found in DC.

schooner
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Re: FCC Attorney

Postby schooner » Wed Aug 03, 2011 11:50 am

Renne Walker wrote:As an 0L, I have read very little on TLS about those entering the legal field as an FCC attorney (for the private sector).

This is a field where an attorney can become a solo practitioner by securing one substantial client (and I don’t mean NBC). Every radio and TV station (group or small) has an FCC attorney. Aside from being on retainer to keep clients informed of changing FCC rules and regs there is the highly lucrative area of negotiating buy/sell agreements. 99% of these transactions are boilerplate, aside from due-diligence, price, certain terms, etc. It usually takes two-four weeks to complete a transaction (plus another 90 days for final FCC approval).

I posted this under “employment” thinking that a few TLS grads (or SAs) might offer advice or share their experience―especially those who have either ventured into this field through BigLaw, or are applying to BigLaw firms. My guess is that most FCC attorneys in this field work out of DC (usually to build relationships with the FCC commissioners and their staff), do you agree. Thanks.


Maybe you wouldn't want my input since I'm not T14 (I saw your past forum for T14 only, nice) and not a grad or SA, but yeah, there are lots of attorneys in DC who work on FCC issues. And I know there are former FCC commissioners and FCC staff who stuck around in DC after they left the agency. There are probably also lots of FCC-issue attorneys in New York City and other major media outlets. Even if the big communications companies corral all their FCC attorneys at HQ, there probably are smaller companies in smaller media markets that have their own in house counsel. (They probably handle a larger portfolio than FCC exclusively though.)

You could check out top (i.e., biggest) law firms in whichever city you're interested in and see if you can find attorneys there who work on such issues.

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Renne Walker
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Re: FCC Attorney

Postby Renne Walker » Wed Aug 03, 2011 11:55 am

The term FCC attorney is a bit misleading. They do not work for the government, they work for the private sector. For example, you own a radio station, you have a buyer (often secured through a broker) want to sell your station, you pick up your phone and call your FCC attorney (much like you would contact your local attorney about selling your candy store). Again, the term “FCC attorney,” is a bit misleading, but everyone in the [media] industry knows what is meant. To them there is the FCC attorney (usually one for the Buyer, one for the Seller) and on the other side is the FCC. The FCC attorney writes up the buy/sell agreement (known as the APA), they then submit it to the FCC for approval-this acceptance process normally takes 90 days.

I would think that most FCC attorneys work in DC, but there are very successful FCC attorneys who work in other cities.

schooner
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Re: FCC Attorney

Postby schooner » Wed Aug 03, 2011 11:59 am

Renne Walker wrote:The term FCC attorney is a bit misleading. They do not work for the government, they work for the private sector. For example, you own a radio station, you have a buyer (often secured through a broker) want to sell your station, you pick up your phone and call your FCC attorney (much like you would contact your local attorney about selling your candy store). Again, the term “FCC attorney,” is a bit misleading, but everyone in the [media] industry knows what is meant. To them there is the FCC attorney (usually one for the Buyer, one for the Seller) and on the other side is the FCC. The FCC attorney writes up the buy/sell agreement (known as the APA), they then submit it to the FCC for approval-this acceptance process normally takes 90 days.

I would think that most FCC attorneys work in DC, but there are very successful FCC attorneys who work in other cities.


Umm, we did not misunderstand you the first time. We get it - these attorneys are in the private sector.

I don't understand the fucking purpose of this thread, since you are answering your own questions.

Anonymous User
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Re: FCC Attorney

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Aug 03, 2011 12:26 pm

There are a couple of large firms in DC that do the kind of work you're interested in. Dow Lohnes, Wiley Rein and Kelley Drye's DC office all come to mind, but that is probably an incomplete list. Your best bet is to just go through the DC firms on NALP to see which ones have "Broadcasting" or "Communications" practices or something along those lines. I can't see it being a "solo" field; especially since broadcast licenses might disappear with the spectrum auction bill being bandied around in the House.

Basically -- it's an extremely "niche" area. I have a background and solid grades but even I think my chances of getting a job at one of these firms or in this practice area is slim-to-none.

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Renne Walker
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Re: FCC Attorney

Postby Renne Walker » Wed Aug 03, 2011 12:32 pm

schooner wrote:I don't understand the fucking purpose of this thread, since you are answering your own questions.

I do know a bit about FCC attorneys, I just want to learn more. Especially, from someone who can offer advice because they too are exploring this field or entered via BigLaw. Simple enough?


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Renne Walker
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Re: FCC Attorney

Postby Renne Walker » Wed Aug 03, 2011 1:16 pm

Anonymous User wrote:....Wiley Rein and Kelley Drye's DC office all come to mind, but that is probably an incomplete list. ....Basically -- it's an extremely "niche" area. I have a background and solid grades but even I think my chances of getting a job at one of these firms or in this practice area is slim-to-none.

As an 0L I am a bit surprised, but apparently you are right about this being a niche field. Probably not so niche for Wiley Ryan, the council for +1,000 Clear Channel radio stations. Nevertheless, I have seen zip about this field on TLS. Even LawSchoolRecruiter (OP of a very good thread) had no advice, and he said he gave it some thought (his BigLaw firms do not have a media department).

Keep in mind there are thousands of radio and TV stations, many owned by individuals or small groups. They all have FCC council on retainer. While some stations only need the services of their FCC attorney for mundane compliance work, new rules/regs, fending off FCC fines, power/antenna increases, etc., there is a lot of station trading that occurs every year (granted, not as much recently due to the tightening of lender credit). Station trading is the meaty work.

Perhaps as a 1L I’ll be enlightened, but right now, hard to find out much.

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Kilpatrick
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Re: FCC Attorney

Postby Kilpatrick » Wed Aug 03, 2011 1:24 pm

As an 1l it bothers me that you start every sentence with "as an 0l"

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IrwinM.Fletcher
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Re: FCC Attorney

Postby IrwinM.Fletcher » Wed Aug 03, 2011 1:25 pm

I can pretty much guarantee you that not every radio and tv station forks over retainer for counsel.

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Re: FCC Attorney

Postby johndhi » Wed Aug 03, 2011 2:01 pm

vanwinkle wrote:Okay. When you say "FCC attorney", what comes to mind is "an attorney that works for the FCC". What it sounds like you're talking about is someone hired as counsel to do "regulatory compliance", meaning they'll help their client comply with FCC regs.

A "substantial client" is going to want competent counsel. That means people who already have experience. As a law student, your primary goal would be to get a job at a firm that does regulatory work, which from what I understand, are most concentrated and easily found in DC.


Didn't really read the rest of thread because I think this post nails all of my thinking. I'd add that it's a bit of a myth that DC is the only market engaged in compliance; regulatory compliance is huge in all markets. Regulatory law is most of the law. I'm not sure which market is best for finding radio stations, though.

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Renne Walker
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Re: FCC Attorney

Postby Renne Walker » Sun Aug 14, 2011 10:59 pm

IrwinM.Fletcher wrote:I can pretty much guarantee you that not every radio and tv station forks over retainer for counsel.

99.9% of the time every station owner used an FCC attorney in the purchase of their station(s). At that point, the owner wants to make certain that they are in compliance with any new rules and regs. Some of the rules/regs are just hassles and some of the changes create opportunities. For instance, dying AM stations are now permitted to apply for a FM translator (low power FM that generally covers the area, especially in smaller markets), thus having an attorney on retainer would alert an owner to that opportunity and how to proceed with the grant.

Because times are tough, a few owners have secured counsel by trading out their bill. Meaning, you owe me $3K and pay me with a $5K bartered cruise. Enough about that.

Given the number of law students and attorneys who visit TLS, finding someone to discuss the FCC attorney field would not be difficult. One would think, anyway. . . .

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vamedic03
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Re: FCC Attorney

Postby vamedic03 » Sun Aug 14, 2011 11:38 pm

Perhaps you don't get any responses because you lecture about what "FCC" attorneys do rather than ask questions. Also, I doubt if anyone doing telecom regulatory work would ever refer to themselves as "FCC" attorneys. The term, FCC attorney, suggests that you are referring to someone employed by the FCC.

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Renne Walker
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Re: FCC Attorney

Postby Renne Walker » Mon Aug 15, 2011 12:08 am

vamedic03 wrote:I doubt if anyone doing telecom regulatory work would ever refer to themselves as "FCC" attorneys. The term, FCC attorney, suggests that you are referring to someone employed by the FCC.

The FCC Attorneys who work at major law firms such as Wiley Ryan refer to themselves as “FCC Attorneys”―as do their media clientele. FCC attorneys work for telecommunications companies, then there are attorneys who work for the FCC. . . not the same.

The purpose of the thread is to see if anyone in TLS land is considering employment as an FCC attorney, if so, I would love to hear from you.

Renzo
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Re: FCC Attorney

Postby Renzo » Mon Aug 15, 2011 1:56 am

Ugh. If there was some sort of internet equivalent of placing a homemade explosive device, I'd do it to this thread.

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Heartford
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Re: FCC Attorney

Postby Heartford » Mon Aug 15, 2011 2:47 pm

Renzo wrote:Ugh. If there was some sort of internet equivalent of placing a homemade explosive device, I'd do it to this thread.


Come on- you just don't understand. An FCC Attorney is someone who doesn't work for the FCC. Attorneys who work for the FCC are called "Attorneys who work for the FCC." But not FCC Attorneys. FCC Attorneys are attorneys who work in cases against Attorneys who work for the FCC. When the FCC hires outside attorneys, they'll sometimes hire an FCC Attorney, because of his/her experience working with Attorneys who work for the FCC, but in general the FCC is represented by Attorneys for work for the FCC, not FCC Attorneys. OP is interested only in FCC Attorneys, and has no interested in talking to Attorneys who work for the FCC.

HTH.

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Blessedassurance
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Re: FCC Attorney

Postby Blessedassurance » Mon Aug 15, 2011 2:54 pm

Hi Walker,
I see you manage to make friends wherever you go with your ever-increasing silly posts. Good job!

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GeePee
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Re: FCC Attorney

Postby GeePee » Mon Aug 15, 2011 2:56 pm

Covington DC does a lot of this work. Just email someone there.

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wiseowl
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Re: FCC Attorney

Postby wiseowl » Mon Aug 15, 2011 3:19 pm

vamedic03 wrote:Perhaps you don't get any responses because you lecture about what "FCC" attorneys do rather than ask questions. Also, I doubt if anyone doing telecom regulatory work would ever refer to themselves as "FCC" attorneys. The term, FCC attorney, suggests that you are referring to someone employed by the FCC.

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sky7
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Re: FCC Attorney

Postby sky7 » Mon Aug 15, 2011 3:29 pm

This thread is unbearable.

1. Go to law school.
2. Do the FCC Attorney Honors Program.
3. Go work for a communications firm.

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Renne Walker
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Re: FCC Attorney

Postby Renne Walker » Mon Aug 15, 2011 4:43 pm

Heartford wrote:An FCC Attorney is someone who doesn't work for the FCC.
HTH.

THANK YOU! Finally, someone who “gets it!”

sky7 wrote:Do the FCC Attorney Honors Program.

That is certainly one way to go about it. Several FCC attorneys worked at the commission before joining a private firm. Still hoping someone here has information, a plan or experience about going directly from law school to a private firm handling communications law.

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NYC Law
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Re: FCC Attorney

Postby NYC Law » Mon Aug 15, 2011 4:49 pm

Why not rename this thread title to "FCC EXPERT TAKING QUESTIONS", it might alleviate some of the confusion.

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Re: FCC Attorney

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Aug 15, 2011 4:51 pm

Renne Walker wrote:
Heartford wrote:An FCC Attorney is someone who doesn't work for the FCC.
HTH.

THANK YOU! Finally, someone who “gets it!”

sky7 wrote:Do the FCC Attorney Honors Program.

That is certainly one way to go about it. Several FCC attorneys worked at the commission before joining a private firm. Still hoping someone here has information, a plan or experience about going directly from law school to a private firm handling communications law.


Have a communications background, go to a T14, get awesome grades, get a SA at one of the firms mentioned ITT or do the Honors program or work at another BigLaw firm that has a similar practice group and try to work your way in there eventually. I don't know what more you want to know or there is to know.

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Heartford
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Re: FCC Attorney

Postby Heartford » Mon Aug 15, 2011 5:03 pm

Renne Walker wrote:
Heartford wrote:An FCC Attorney is someone who doesn't work for the FCC.
HTH.

THANK YOU! Finally, someone who “gets it!”



Oh I was just regurgitating what you've been saying. I still definitely don't "get it," and like most of the visitors to this thread, I think you're probably just imagining a legal specialization that doesn't exactly exist. The people you think of as "FCC Attorneys" are probably just general practice corporate lawyers who sometimes work with FCC issues, amongst thousands of other legal situations.




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