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Institute on Telecommunications Policy & Regulation (34th Annual)

Author(s): Kathleen Q. Abernathy, Michele C. Farquhar, Scott D. Delacourt
Practice Area: Communications/Telecommunications Law, Intellectual Property
Published: Dec 2016
ISBN: 9781402427923
PLI Item #: 150357
CHB Spine #: G1302

Kathleen Quinn Abernathy is Executive Vice President, External Affairs, responsible for the company's governmental and regulatory affairs. From March 2010 to June 2012, she was Chief Legal Officer and Executive Vice President, Regulatory and Governmental Affairs. Prior to joining Frontier, she was a Partner at Wilkinson Barker Knauer LLP, advising clients on a wide range of legal, policy and regulatory issues related to telecommunications and the media. Before this, she was a Partner at the law firm of Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, LLP.

Ms. Abernathy served as a Commissioner with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) from 2001-2005. While a Commissioner, she chaired the Federal-State Joint Board on Universal Service and participated as a U.S. representative in numerous international bilateral and multilateral negotiations, including the 2002 International Telecommunication Union (ITU) Plenipotentiary Conference and the 2003 ITU World Radiocommunications Conference. She was appointed by the ITU to chair the 2004 ITU Global Symposium for Regulators.

Prior to joining the FCC, Ms. Abernathy was Vice President for Public Policy at BroadBand Office Communications; Vice President for Regulatory Affairs at US West; and Vice President for Federal Regulatory Affairs at AirTouch Communications. Earlier in her career, she was Legal Advisor to two FCC commissioners and a Special Assistant to the agency's General Counsel.

Ms. Abernathy has received numerous honors and awards in recognition of her contributions to the profession. In 2011 she was named one of the "Top Ten Women in Telecom" by Fierce Telecom and honored by Legal Momentum with an "Aiming High Award." She was featured in Chambers USA's "Leaders in their Field" in the Telecom, Broadcast & Satellite: Regulatory category (2009); included in the Washington, DC edition of Super Lawyers (2009, 2010); and named one of Washington's Top Lawyers by Washingtonian magazine (2007, 2009).

Ms. Abernathy served on Frontier Communications' board of directors from April 2006 through February 2010. She is currently on the boards of the John Gardner Fellowship Association, which is affiliated with U.C. Berkley, and Stanford University and Children Now. She also serves on the board of ISO New England Inc., the operator of New England's bulk power and wholesale electricity markets.

Ms. Abernathy received her B.A. magna cum laude from Marquette University and her J.D. from Catholic University of America's Columbus School of Law, where she was a Distinguished Practitioner in Residence. She is a member of the District of Columbia Bar and the Federal Communications Bar Association, of which she is a Past-President, and has served as an adjunct professor at Georgetown University Law Center and The Columbus School of Law.

Scott advises clients on developing and implementing regulatory strategies, and represents them before the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and Federal Trade Commission (FTC). He has a broad range of experience in transactions; FTC/FCC investigations and enforcement; and wireless, telecom, and data privacy/security. Scott is chair of Wiley Rein’s FTC Practice Group.

Representative Experience

  • Advises large and small companies in the wireless space on regulatory issues, spectrum policy and allocation matters, advocacy, and compliance and helps to create and execute strategies to attain their business objectives.
  • Experience with all aspects of FTC investigations, including Civil Investigative Demand response; Field Office, Bureau, and Commission-level advocacy and negotiations; settlement and litigation options; and coordination of multi-forum settlements.
  • Significant experience in handling wireless and telecom transactions. Previously served as the lead FCC official responsible for reviewing several billion dollar wireless transactions, including the Sprint/Nextel, Cingular/AT&T Wireless, and ALLTEL/Western Wireless mergers.
  • Advises regarding emerging regulation applicable to broadband connected devices/Internet of Things (IoT), including connected/autonomous vehicles and connected health devices.
  • Significant expertise in data privacy/security issues, particularly concerning collection and use of consumer data in marketing and advertising.
  • Regularly counsels carriers and manufacturers regarding disability access requirements.

Professional Experience

  • Deputy Bureau Chief (2004-2005) and Chief of Staff (2003-2004), Federal Communications Commission, Wireless Telecommunications Bureau
  • Senior Counsel, Office of General Counsel (2002-2003) and Legal Advisor to the Wireless Bureau Chief (2001-2002), Federal Communications Commission
  • Adjunct Professor of Communications, The Catholic University of America, Columbus School of Law, Institute for Communications Law Studies (2006-2007)


Named by The Legal 500 US a “recommended lawyer” in Telecom and Broadcast Regulatory Law (2017-2018)

Named by Law360 as a Telecommunications MVP (2015)

Received 2015 Burton Award for Distinguished Legal Writing


J.D., cum laude, University of Michigan Law School

B.A., summa cum laude, Georgetown University; Phi Beta Kappa

Named by The Legal 500 US a “recommended lawyer” in Telecom and Broadcast Regulatory Law (2017)
Named by Law360 as a Telecommunications MVP (2015)
Received 2015 Burton Award for Distinguished Legal Writing

J.D., cum laude, University of Michigan Law School
B.A., summa cum laude, Georgetown University; Phi Beta Kappa

Law Journals
Articles Editor, Michigan Technology and Telecommunications Law Review

Years of government, industry, and law firm service have shaped Michele Farquhar into an influential advisor, advocate, and thought leader for the technology, media, and telecoms industry.

As leader of the firm's Communications Practice, and co-chair of the global industry sector team, she helps clients with a range of global and U.S. communications policy initiatives, spectrum auctions, licensing and compliance matters, and regulatory strategy involving M&A transactions as well as litigation.

Michele obtains regulatory approvals, waivers, and other licenses for many new and cutting-edge technologies. And she leads teams advising major global companies on regulatory strategy issues involving a range of international jurisdictions. As a legal authority in her industry, she also speaks and writes extensively on a range of communications issues.

Michele joined the firm in 1997, after serving as Chief of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Wireless Telecommunications Bureau. While at the FCC, she led the agency's new spectrum auction initiative and held primary responsibility over several major auctions and spectrum policy initiatives, as well as the bureau's implementation of the Telecommunications Act of 1996.

Previously, Michele served as Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary and Chief of Staff for the National Telecommunications and Information Administration at the U.S. Department of Commerce. She played a lead role in developing the administration's positions on telecommunications reform as well as spectrum, international, electronic commerce, and other policy issues.

As Vice President for Law and Regulatory Policy at the Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association, she gained industry knowledge and regulatory advocacy experience while representing cellular carriers on regulatory, policy, and legal issues before the FCC. Michele also served as senior legal advisor to FCC Commissioner Ervin Duggan and as the mass media advisor to two FCC general counsels.


Board Member, Visitors of St. John's College

Former President, Land Mobile Communications Council

Member, Board of Trustees of Duke University, 1997-1999

Member, D.C. Bar Steering Committee on Administrative Law and Agency Practice, 2014-present

President, Duke University Alumni Association, 1997-1998

President, Federal Communications Bar Association, 2005-2006


J.D., University of Virginia School of Law, 1984

B.A., magna cum laude, Duke University, 1979