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Patricia O'Connell
Senior Communications Manager

Former FCC Commissioner Robert M. McDowell Joins Wiley Rein

September 8, 2014

Wiley Rein LLP announced today that Robert M. McDowell, former commissioner and senior member of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), has joined its Washington, DC office as a partner in the firm’s premier Communications Practice.  Mr. McDowell, who has been a leader and change agent on a multitude of issues in the communications field throughout his career, will provide strategic legal, business, and public policy advice to clients on important domestic and international matters in the telecommunications, media, technology, and digital media industries.

“Rob brings an unparalleled degree of bipartisan support, credibility, and respect at the highest levels of government, along with deep knowledge about the vital and growing communications and tech sectors,” said Managing Partner Peter D. Shields.  “His tremendous and deep experience on complex issues will be invaluable to our clients.”

With the addition of Mr. McDowell, four former FCC commissioners are now members of Wiley Rein’s Communications Practice, including Chairman Richard E. Wiley, who also served as chairman and general counsel of the FCC.  “We are thrilled Rob is joining Wiley Rein,” said Mr. Wiley.  “His distinguished record of service at the FCC, his background in international treaty negotiations, and his conceptual leadership on Internet governance and spectrum management are among the many outstanding assets he brings to the firm.”

Of his decision to join Wiley Rein, Mr. McDowell stated:  “Wiley Rein is the ‘gold standard’ among communications firms, and one that combines regulatory prowess with public policy, international advocacy, trade, intellectual property, government contracts, and litigation experience.  It’s my pleasure to join this team of consummate professionals, and I look forward to working with attorneys throughout the firm to assist clients and expand the firm’s international presence.”

Appointed to the FCC by presidents George W. Bush (2006) and Barack Obama (2009) and unanimously confirmed by the U.S. Senate each time, Mr. McDowell was the first Republican appointed to an independent agency by President Obama.  During his seven years as one of five FCC commissioners, he spearheaded the production of policies that directly affect all aspects of the Internet, wireless technologies, broadband competition, and communications equipment and devices, as well as radio and satellite services. 

As a result, he helped consumers in the communications marketplace enjoy the benefits of more choices, lower prices, and useful innovations through increased competition.  As a veteran of the two largest spectrum auctions in U.S. history, he was influential in persuading the FCC to adopt “flexible use” policies to maximize freedom for entrepreneurs and innovators.  He also served as an official member of the U.S. diplomatic delegations working on treaty negotiations and international conferences governing global spectrum and telecommunications policies.  In addition, his work at the FCC touched on national security, cybersecurity, and privacy matters. 

Mr. McDowell brings to Wiley Rein approximately 16 years of private sector experience in the communications industry.  Prior to joining the FCC, he was senior vice president for the Competitive Telecommunications Association (CompTel), a leading industry group representing competitive facilities-based telecommunications service providers and their supplier partners.  He also served as the executive vice president and general counsel of America’s Carriers Telecommunications Association (ACTA), which merged with CompTel in 1999.  Most recently, he served as a visiting fellow at the Hudson Institute’s Center for the Economics of the Internet and was appointed in 2013 to the international Panel on Global Internet Cooperation and Governance Mechanisms, sponsored by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), the World Economic Forum, and The Annenberg Foundation.

His involvement in civic and political affairs spans four decades.  He was appointed by the governor of Virginia to the Governor’s Advisory Board for a Safe and Drug-Free Virginia, and to the Virginia Board for Contractors, the Commonwealth’s largest regulatory board, where he served for eight years.  A veteran of several U.S. presidential campaigns, his work during the 1992 election cycle is cited in the Almanac of American Politics, 1994.

Mr. McDowell graduated cum laude from Duke University.  After serving as chief legislative aide to a member of the Virginia House of Delegates, he attended the Marshall-Wythe School of Law at the College of William and Mary.  Upon his graduation from law school, Mr. McDowell joined the Washington, DC office of the national law firm Arter & Hadden.

Mr. McDowell joins the largest communications law practice in the country at Wiley Rein, which boasts a record of success for clients in a wide variety of industries.  More than 80 attorneys and engineers are engaged full-time in the Communications Practice, which encompasses virtually all aspects of the federal, state, and international laws governing the telecommunications, Internet, and media industries.  Consistently ranked by Chambers USA in its prestigious top tier, the Group is recognized as a “market leader” that “fields a deep bench of experts” with “excellent substantive knowledge.”  Wiley Rein also regularly ranks in the first tier for Communications—both nationally and in Washington, DC—in U.S. News & World Report’s “Best Law Firms.”