McDowell accepts law firm gig


Robert McDowellThe first word in the name Wiley Rein LLP refers to former FCC Chairman Richard E. Wiley. The addition of Robert M. McDowell to the firm’s roster of attorney adds another FCC 8th Floor veteran to its prestigious list.

“We are thrilled Rob is joining Wiley Rein,” said 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.”

McDowell’s hire is said to bring the total number of Wiley Rein ex-commissioners to four.

“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.”

Prior to joining the FCC, McDowell’s experience was on the telco rather than the broadcast side of the communications business.

RBR-TVBR observation: McDowell is a big proponent of leaving the government out of any issue in favor of allowing the free market to work its magic. Although he always acknowledged the need for some level of regulation, he preferred as light a touch as possible.

On a lighter note, we cannot say the same thing about Wiley Rein itself. Back in the day, we had occasion to compete with the law firm in the Communications League, where Washington-based communications entities met to play some coed softball. Our team of editors harbored the belief that many of the law firms hired gargantuan legal interns over the summer for the express purpose of knocking the stuffing out of us. Yes, the pen may be mightier than the sword, but it was rarely mightier than the aluminum bats of a platoon of extremely well-conditioned law students.

We note in all fairness that Wiley Rein did employ many actual attorneys in its lineup and was exceeding fair in calling safe/out in this umpire-free league, unlike some other law firms that also employed titanic interns, leaving veteran legal staff free to litigate close plays while sipping cool beverages on the sidelines.

Regardless, we suspect that McDowell will be a moderating influence at the firm. His adherence to the concept of collegiality during his days at the FCC was exemplary. He and ex-Commissioner Michael Copps were at odds on many issues, but you’d never know they were having a debate if you judged by their tone alone. McDowell’s reasoned and reasonable approach to the issues should be an asset to the firm.