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Talk about a legacy. In 1974, as a young lawyer in the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division, Philip Verveer filed the lawsuit that led to the breakup of the Bell System monopoly. In the years since, the Willkie Farr & Gallagher partner has become, as Michael Altschul of CTIA-The Wireless Association puts it, “a mighty oak of the telecom bar,” under whose canopy a new generation of lawyers has taken root. “He is so wise,” says Altschul, general counsel of CTIA, who has turned to Verveer for legal advice since 1990. “He has wonderful judgment. It’s not that he’s cautious. He’s helped us with wonderfully innovative and far-reaching initiatives that have been anything but cautious. It’s more that his counsel really is thoughtful and rejects the superficial and easy in favor of more principled arguments and approaches.” As one of CTIA’s primary regulatory counsel, Verveer, 63, has been involved with the cellular phone industry since its inception. Among his more enduring efforts on behalf of the trade group was his work on the issue of compensation to be paid when wireless and wireline networks exchanged traffic that had originated with each other. The Federal Communications Commission addressed the matter in hotly contested proceedings in the mid-1990s. Although the full import of those proceedings was not immediately clear, Verveer notes, “The outcome has been very important in enabling wireless phones to serve as a substitute for wireline phones.” He adds, “Equally important, it served to make wireless service more affordable, enabling the enormous increase in the penetration of wireless service.” Currently, Verveer is representing a wireless technology company on the issue of enhanced 911 service. TruePosition, a subsidiary of Liberty Media Corp., provides technology that enables emergency responders to identify a physical location when a 911 call is placed from a wireless phone. The FCC has a proceeding in progress that seeks to improve the accuracy of these location estimates. Verveer has also been closely associated with the cable industry. He counts Comcast Corp. as a major client, and David Don, senior director of spectrum policy, says he thinks the world of Verveer. “No one practices at such a high standard. He is a man of incredible integrity,” says Don. “He has a terrific sense of broadcast policy and the political issues surrounding telecom regulation and how it all fits into the big debates at the FCC and Congress.” As Comcast’s principal regulatory counsel, Verveer and Willkie Farr colleagues James Casserly and Michael Hammer advise the company on a wide range of issues related to cable, telephone, Internet, and wireless services. Another client is SpectrumCo, a joint venture that includes Comcast, Cox Communications, Sprint Nextel Corp., and Time Warner Inc. Verveer represented the group when it successfully bid $2.4 billion for 137 wireless spectrum licenses at an FCC auction in 2006. Verveer has been a go-to lawyer for many large telecom mergers, as well. For example, he represented Sprint Corp. when it merged with Nextel Communications Inc. in 2005, a transaction that created the nation’s third-largest wireless company. Last year he represented Mexico City-based America Movil when it acquired a 52 percent stake in Telecomunicaciones de Puerto Rico Inc. from Verizon Communications Inc. It’s the first time a foreign company has bought an incumbent local exchange carrier in the United States. And now he’s representing Loral Space and Communications Inc. in its $3 billion bid for Telesat Canada. Unlike most telecom lawyers, Verveer sometimes handles merger review at both the FCC and the Justice Department, an outgrowth of his early antitrust experience. He joined the Antitrust Division in 1969, immediately after earning his J.D. from the University of Chicago Law School. Thanks to what he calls “the randomness of life,” he was assigned the AT&T antitrust investigation and worked on the case as lead counsel from 1974 to 1977. But even though this was the biggest divestiture ever, the Justice Department during his tenure was only willing to staff the case with a half-dozen lawyers. “It was clear resources weren’t going to be made available,” recalls Verveer. Frustrated, he moved to the Federal Trade Commission in 1977. (Eventually, the Justice Department would add many more lawyers to the case, which settled in 1982. The company was broken up in 1984.) In 1978, then-FCC Chairman Charles Ferris offered him “an absolutely wonderful opportunity,” says Verveer, to head the Cable Bureau. He spent a year on the job, then shifted over to head the Broadcast Bureau and finally the Common Carrier Bureau. By 1981, Verveer remembers, he was “exhausted and broke,” so he opted for private practice at Pierson, Ball & Dowd. He moved to the D.C. office of Willkie Farr as a partner in 1983. Notable colleagues there include Stephen Bell, Francis Buono, Michael Jones, and Thomas Jones.

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