Jenner & Block

Jenner & Block Expands Communications, Internet and Technology Practice with Three Former High-Ranking FCC Officials in its Washington, DC Office

WASHINGTON, DC – May 18, 2017 – Jenner & Block announced today that three former high-ranking Federal Communications Commission (FCC) officials have joined the firm’s Communications, Internet and Technology Practice.  Howard J. Symons, former FCC General Counsel and former Vice Chair of the FCC’s Incentive Auction Task Force, has joined as a partner; Roger C. Sherman, former Chief of the FCC Wireless Telecommunications Bureau and Chief Counsel to the US House Committee on Energy and Commerce, will serve as of counsel, effective June 7, 2017; and Johanna R. Thomas, former Legal Advisor to FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel, has joined as special counsel.  All three are based in the firm’s Washington, DC office.

“We have a renowned Communications, Internet and Technology Practice with a long history of handling matters that have transformed – and continue to transform – the telecommunications, media, and broadband industries,” said Terrence J. Truax, Jenner & Block’s managing partner.  “Howard, Roger and Johanna will provide additional depth and breadth to the practice, further strengthening the team’s ability to provide counsel to clients on the complex issues they face as these industries continue to evolve.” 

With nearly 40 years of experience in telecommunications law and policy, Mr. Symons has held senior positions in government and the private sector.  As General Counsel of the FCC, he oversaw more than 60 lawyers who provided legal support for the Commission’s policy and rulemaking activities and recommended decisions in adjudicatory matters.  He also served as one of Chairman Wheeler’s four senior advisors.  As Vice Chair of the Incentive Auction Task Force, Mr. Symons was one of the primary architects of the first incentive auction: a two-sided auction in which broadcasters bid to give up their spectrum and wireless providers bid to buy it.  From 1985 to 2014, Mr. Symons was a partner at another AmLaw 100 firm, chairing that firm’s communications practice and serving as a member of the Policy (Executive) Committee.  Between 1981 and 1985, he served as Senior Counsel to the Subcommittee on Telecommunications of the US House Committee on Energy and Commerce, where he was responsible for developing legislation on matters ranging from domestic telephone policy to cable franchising and international telecommunications.

Mr. Sherman has significant experience in a wide array of communications and technology matters, particularly in the wireless space.  During his more than 20 years in Washington, Mr. Sherman has held senior positions at a federal agency, on Capitol Hill, and inside a major wireless company.  In his role as the FCC Wireless Telecommunications Bureau Chief, he advised the Chairman and Commissioners on complex wireless matters, met regularly with C-suite executives in the industry, and supervised a team of more than 200 professionals.  Before joining the Bureau, Mr. Sherman held a number of senior positions on Capitol Hill in which he advised on communications policy and other issues.  As Chief Counsel to the US House Committee on Energy and Commerce, he coordinated the Committee’s legislative agenda and oversight efforts for a wide range of policy issues including health care, energy, telecommunications, and consumer protection.  As Chief Counsel and Staff Director to the Subcommittee on Communications and Technology, he advised members on communications policy, legislation, and FCC oversight.  Before working at Energy and Commerce, Mr. Sherman was Deputy Chief Counsel to the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.  Before entering government service, he was a director/senior counsel with Sprint Corporation, focusing on its wireless business.

Ms. Thomas is an experienced media, internet and telecommunications lawyer.  As legal advisor to FCC Commissioner Rosenworcel, she provided strategic legal and policy counsel on wireless, international and public safety issues.  At the FCC, Ms. Thomas also served as a legal advisor to the chief of the Wireless Telecommunications Bureau and as an attorney advisor in the Media Bureau’s Industry Analysis Division.  Prior to entering government service, Ms. Thomas was an associate in the telecommunications, internet and media group at another Am Law 100 international law firm.

Led by co-chairs Samuel L. Feder and John L. Flynn, Jenner & Block’s Communications, Internet and Technology Practice is at the forefront of rapid changes in the business and regulation of these converging industries.  The group represents clients in pursuing large mergers and other transactions, entering new industries, navigating new regulations and legislation, and creating new products and services.  Its lawyers are best known for tackling particularly difficult problems and bet-the-company matters that require a combination of the team’s top legal skills, hands-on FCC experience, and commitment to work wherever and whenever needed to achieve clients’ objectives. 

“We are excited that Howard, Roger and Johanna have joined the team,” said Mr. Feder, a former general counsel of the FCC.  “Howard is well versed in the issues of broadband, telephony and wireless, adding to our already strong reputation in those areas.  Roger is widely regarded as one of the premier strategists on wireless regulatory matters, and Johanna’s experience providing legal guidance on a variety of areas will add tremendous value for our clients in the industry.”

Mr. Flynn added, “Howard, Roger and Johanna have exceptional skills and industry knowledge that will benefit our clients and round out our growing team.  Our practice has continued to grow in recent years with a team of dedicated associates, including several who have been promoted to partner, and the arrivals of partners Nancy Libin and Rebekah Goodheart.  With the addition of these former high-ranking officials, we expect the wireless, cable, privacy, satellite, and new technology matters we handle to continue to expand.”

Mr. Symons earned his B.A., summa cum laude, from Yale University and his J.D. from Harvard Law School.  Mr. Sherman received his B.A., summa cum laude, from Amherst College and his J.D., cum laude, from Harvard Law School.  Ms. Thomas earned her A.B. with honors from Dartmouth College and her J.D. from the University of Pennsylvania Law School.