Photo of Robert M. McDowell


J.D., William & Mary Law School; Order of the Barristers

B.A., cum laude, Duke University

Bar and Court Admissions

District of Columbia Bar

Virginia Bar

Supreme Court of the United States

U.S. Courts of Appeals for the First, Fourth, Fifth, and District of Columbia Circuits

U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia

Supreme Court of Virginia

Rob, former commissioner and senior member of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), has been an industry and government leader on a multitude of complex issues in the communications field throughout his career. He provides strategic legal, business, and public policy advice to clients on important domestic and international matters in the telecommunications, media, technology, and digital media industries.

Representative Experience

  • Led efforts to put more of the airwaves into the hands of American consumers through the auction of exclusive use licenses previously used for television as well as unlicensed use of various frequencies including the TV “white spaces” and the 5 GHz band. 
  • As a veteran of the two largest wireless auctions in U.S. history at that time, led efforts for the FCC to adopt “flexible use” policies to maximize freedom for entrepreneurs and innovators.
  • Wrote a seminal 2012 opinion-editorial in The Wall Street Journal, which sparked the creation of an international coalition to combat multilateral Internet regulation and resulted in legislation being adopted unanimously by the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate in 2012.
  • Led a bipartisan effort to negotiate and successfully secure the first federal entitlement reform in a generation through an overhaul of the FCC’s $8 billion-per-year Universal Service subsidy program.
  • Played a leading role in the outcome of countless large corporate transactions including those involving satellite, media, and wireless companies.
  • Helped lead the massive 2009 digital television transition to a successful end as one of only three FCC commissioners.
  • Led an effort to establish a ban on discriminatory practices in broadcast advertising, resulting in the adoption of the first federal civil rights rule in a generation.

Professional Experience

  • Commissioner, Federal Communications Commission (2006-2013)
  • Senior Advisor, Berenson & Co. (2014-Present)
  • Senior Vice President and Assistant General Counsel, Competitive Telecommunications Association (CompTel) (1996-2006)
  • Executive Vice President and General Counsel, America's Carriers Telecommunications Association (ACTA) (1998-1999)
  • Private law practice (1990-1998)
  • Chief of Staff, Virginia House of Delegates, Office of Delegate Robert T. Andrews (1985-1987)


  • Board of Visitors, Duke University's Sanford School of Public Policy (2015-Present)
  • The Media Institute
    • Chair, Global Free Speech and the Internet Advisory Council (2015-Present)
    • Ex Officio Member
  • Board of Directors, The Potomac School (2014-Present)
  • Senior Fellow, The Hudson Institute (2013-Present)
  • Panel Member, Panel on the Future of Global Internet Cooperation and Governance Mechanisms (2013-2014)
  • McLean Project for the Arts
    • Chairman (2005-2007)
    • Board Member (1994-2009)
  • Virginia Board for Contractors (gubernatorial appointee) (1996-2004)
  • Governor's Advisory Board for a Safe and Drug Free Virginia (gubernatorial appointee) (1994-1995)


A partial listing of awards includes:

  • Received the Latinos in Information Sciences and Technology Association's (LISTA) Chair Award in recognition of commitment to excellence and for leadership on elimination discriminatory practices in broadcast advertising (2008)
  • Received the Digital Patriot Award for preserving and advancing technology, entrepreneurship and the spirit of American innovation by The Consumer Electronics Association (2011)
  • Received the Media Institute's Freedom of Speech Award for defending the First Amendment right to freedom of expression (2011)
  • Given Power of Urban Radio Award for outstanding leadership and meritorious service in helping to eliminate discriminatory advertising practices in broadcasting by the National Association of Black Owned Broadcasters (NABOB) (2012)
  • Received Sports Fan Coalition's Most Valuable Policymaker Award (2012)
  • Given The Phoenix Center for Advanced Legal and Economic Policy Studies' Jerry B. DuVall Public Service Award in recognition of his exercise of political courage in, and contribution of analytical rigor to, the United States telecom policy debate (2013)
  • Received Minority, Media, and Telecom Council's (MMTC) highest award, Everett C. Parker Award, for rendering the most distinguished service, over many years, to diversity and inclusion in the media and telecom industries (2013)
  • Named by The Legal 500 US a "recommended lawyer" in Telecom and Broadcast Regulatory Law (2015-2016) and Telecom and Broadcast Transactional Law (2015-2016)

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