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When it comes to appellate litigation, many of the biggest players in the telecom industry have one name on their speed dial: Michael Kellogg. Co-founder and managing partner of Kellogg, Huber, Hansen, Todd, Evans & Figel, he is described over and again by those who know him as “brilliant.” A former U.S. Supreme Court clerk, Kellogg is fresh off a major victory before the high court on behalf of his primary clients, the former Bell companies. In Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, the Court ruled 7-2 against a consumer class action attacking the phone companies. The consumers, represented by class action specialists Milberg Weiss & Bershad, alleged that the phone companies acted in parallel in what amounted to a conspiracy to refrain from competing in each other’s primary territory. The issue before the Court was whether the plaintiffs had alleged enough facts to warrant the next step of extensive discovery. Kellogg persuaded the Supreme Court to reverse the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit and rule no. Kellogg, 53, calls the May decision “a significant clarification of pleading requirements that could have widespread implications beyond antitrust.” John Thorne, deputy general counsel of Verizon Communications Inc., describes Kellogg as “brilliant, with outstanding judgment,” and calls him “a lawyer for these times, well-suited to how the communications field has evolved.” Thorne points to Kellogg’s long string of appellate victories as “objective proof of what he has enabled his clients to do.” Says Thorne, “You can measure Michael Kellogg’s success in the tens of billions of dollars in investments that have flowed from the freedoms he has opened up for his clients.” Notably, Kellogg represented all of the former Bell companies in a series of successive challenges to Federal Communications Commission regulations implementing one of the centerpieces of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, its unbundling requirements. The act directed the incumbent phone companies to make network elements available to new competitors, but left it to the FCC to decide which elements had to be accessible on an unbundled basis. As lead counsel to the United States Telecom Association and the Bell companies, Kellogg twice (in 2002 and 2004) persuaded the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit to vacate FCC attempts to write rules to impose unbundling requirements on the Bells. He had also been co-counsel for the companies in the 1999 Supreme Court case of AT&T Corp. v. Iowa Utilities Board, which overturned another rule on network access. After the three reversals, the FCC retreated and passed significantly less intrusive rules. But not all of Kellogg’s cases are so technical. He’s representing AT&T in a suit against NASCAR over placement of the AT&T logo on the No. 31 car, a Chevrolet driven by Jeff Burton in the Nextel Cup Series. AT&T won a preliminary injunction that allowed the company to replace the car’s Cingular logos with the AT&T globe as part of the company rebranding. Now, NASCAR has countersued AT&T for $100 million. “His knowledge of the law that affects our business is unsurpassed,” says Martin Grambow, general counsel of AT&T Southeast, who describes Kellogg’s written and oral skills as “second to none.” “His judgment and ability to predict what an administrative agency or court will do is, to my mind, uncanny,” Grambow continues. In addition, he says, he values Kellogg for his “very sage advice” and his ability to synthesize facts with the law to help plot a course of action. Kellogg earned his law degree from Harvard Law School in 1982, then spent a year clerking for D.C. Circuit Judge Malcolm Wilkey. From 1983 to 1984, he clerked for then-Associate Justice William Rehnquist at the Supreme Court. From 1984 to 1986, he cut his teeth in the courtroom as an assistant U.S. attorney in the Southern District of New York, prosecuting organized crime and narcotics cases. He polished his appellate skills working as an assistant to the solicitor general from 1987 to 1989, arguing seven cases before the Supreme Court. In 1989, Kellogg entered private practice, joining Mayer, Brown & Platt (now Mayer, Brown, Rowe & May) in Washington as an appellate specialist. It was there that he began to represent the regional Bell companies, but when one of them, Ameritech Corp., wanted the firm to represent it exclusively, Kellogg decided to leave. In 1983, he joined forces with his former law school classmates Peter Huber and Mark Hansen to open their own firm, which has grown to more than 50 lawyers today. Notable colleagues include Evan Leo, Sean Lev, Aaron Panner, and Colin Stretch. “I’ve been most fortunate to have terrific partners and really good associates,” Kellogg says. “It makes the practice fun.”

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