Veteran D.C. Communications Attorney Potts Dies


William J. Potts, a longtime Washington communications attorney, passed away at his home in Glen Echo, Md., on Monday, July 10, after a short illness. He was 87.

Mr. Potts was a partner at Haley, Bader & Potts, a law firm that specialized in representing broadcasters and telecommunications companies, most notably MCI Communications Corp., in dealings with the FCC and other agencies.

He is considered a pioneer and advocate in such areas as satellite communications, broadcast signal quality, computer law, intellectual copyright and international communications law.

Potts was also a passionate fan of opera, the Philadelphia Phillies, and what he called “strange cars” — particularly antique and oddly engineered French and British automobiles.

A great storyteller and wit, he was prone to break into beautifully sung baritone opera arias or to speak in Italian, another passion, and he was always ready to hold forth on the subjects of politics or history.

Born in Germantown, Penn., Potts served in Army intelligence and then worked briefly at the National Security Agency before entering Georgetown University Law Center, from which he received his law degree in 1958.

Potts clerked at Haley, Wollenberg & Kenehan, a pioneering communications law firm, and then joined the firm as an attorney. It became Haley, Bader & Potts in 1966.

The firm eventually moved to Arlington, Va., and was acquired by Garvey Schubert Barer in 2000.

In addition to his lengthy legal career, Potts served as president of the Federal Communications Bar Association in 1988-89, and as longtime general counsel of the Association of Broadcast Engineering Standards.

He is survived by his wife of 66 years, Anne (King); his daughter, Louise Potts of Bethesda, Md.; three grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren.

Mass of Christian Burial was offered today (7/17) at Church of the Little Flower in Bethesda, Md.

The family asks, in lieu of flowers, that donations be made to St. Ann’s Center for Children, Youth and Families, 4901 Eastern Ave. NE, Hyattsville, MD 20782.

You may view and sign the family guestbook at