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Institute on Telecommunications Policy & Regulation (31st Annual)

Author(s): Peter D. Shields, Kathleen Q. Abernathy, Mark D. Schneider
Practice Area: Communications/Telecommunications Law, Intellectual Property
Published: Dec 2013
ISBN: 9781402421204
PLI Item #: 42338
CHB Spine #: G1162

Mark D. Schneider has practiced with Sidley’s Communications group since 1984, except for several years of service at the Federal Communications Commission. From September of 1999 until June of 2001, he served as Senior Legal Advisor to FCC Commissioner Susan Ness. From June 2001 until January of 2002, he served as Associate General Counsel of the Federal Communications Commission. From 1992 until he joined the Commission, he was a partner with Sidley & Austin, the law firm he joined as an associate after graduating law school in 1984.

Mr. Schneider practices before the FCC and Federal and state courts in the broadcast, media, common carrier, international and wireless fields. He represents television and radio stations, wireless operators, telephone companies, equipment manufacturers, private radio operators and lending institutions regarding FCC regulations and other communications law issues. His practice includes litigation, counseling clients, corporate and transactional matters, as well as preparation and prosecution of applications and other requests before the FCC. He represents media and wireless companies in structuring transactions, including mergers and acquisitions, in prosecuting applications for FCC authorizations, and in litigation matters before the FCC and courts. He prepares and files comments on behalf of communications companies in rulemaking proceedings, advises lending and investment institutions regarding the impact of FCC regulations, and counsels equipment manufactures on the lawfulness of manufacture and sale of devices utilizing radio frequency.

Mr. Schneider is an Adjunct Professor at the Georgetown University Law Center, teaching Communications Law and Policy. He received his law degree, magna cum laude, from Georgetown, after graduating from Haverford College. He served as an Executive Editor of the Georgetown Law Journal while at the Georgetown University Law Center.


Federal Communications Bar Association; Former President, Secretary, Treasurer, and Executive Committee. Former co-chair, FCBA Wireless Telecommunications Practice Committee.

Former member, Governing Committee (1998-2000), ABA Forum on Communications


Georgetown University Law Center (J.D., 1984), magna cum laude, Georgetown Law Journal, Executive Editor, Editorial Board, (1983-84)

Haverford College (B.A., 1981)

As Managing Partner of Wiley Rein LLP, Mr. Shields is responsible for the overall management of the firm, and development and implementation of the firm’s long-term strategy focusing on client service, value billing, operational efficiencies, diversity, and tactical growth. In this role, he chairs the Administrative and Management committees and leads the firm’s efforts to provide exceptional, effective, and value-based legal services.

Mr. Shields is committed to a wide range of community activities in Washington, DC, and has been instrumental in the growth of the firm’s pro bono program—increasing the firm-wide pro bono hours and appointing a full-time Pro Bono Partner to further focus on engaging the firm’s professionals to participate in community efforts.

Mr. Shields has 25 years of experience working with clients in all sectors of the communications and telecommunications industry. His broad practice is largely focused on providing regulatory and public policy advocacy to wireline telephone companies, wireless carriers, and other providers of satellite, video, and other communications services. Mr. Shields is a former President of the Federal Communications Bar Association (FCBA).

Regulatory and Policy Matters:

  • Advises large telecommunications carriers on policy and advocacy matters and helps to create and execute strategies to attain their business objectives.
  • Offers strategic counsel to large and small communications companies, including developing and implementing Washington, DC policy strategy for Scripps Networks Interactive, parent company of the Food Network and HGTV.
  • Routinely assists telecom, wireless, and international clients with developing and implementing regulatory strategies, representing them before the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and state regulatory commissions.
  • Advises clients on regulatory compliance and transactional matters including structure, assignments, and foreign ownership issues.
  • Counsels clients on matters relating to state regulatory approvals or certifications, as well as new certifications for additional lines of business and approvals for new investments into regulated companies.


  • Adjunct Professor of Communications, The Catholic University of America, Columbus School of Law, Institute for Communications Law Studies (1997-2006).


  • Federal Communications Bar Association (FCBA).

    ?  President (2002-2003).

    • ?Co-Chair, PLI/FCBA Annual Telecommunications Policy and Regulation Institute (2010-2014).
  • Board of Trustees, Legal Aid Society of DC.
  • National Advisory Board, The NALP Foundation for Law Career Research and Education.
  • Chair, Board of Directors, N Street Village.
  • Board Member, Washington Performing Arts.


  • Listed by Chambers USA as one of “America’s Leading Lawyers for Business” in Telecom, Broadcast & Satellite.
  • Named one of DC’'s “Super Lawyers” for Administrative Law (2013) and Communications (2014) by Super Lawyers magazine.
  • Named one of City Year Washington, DC’s Idealists of the Year (2011).
  • Named Pro Bono Lawyer of the Year by the District of Columbia Bar for work on behalf of victims of domestic violence (1993- 1994).
  • Distinguished Service Award, Federal Communications Bar Association (1997-1998).

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.