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After spending nearly five years with telecommunications giant Verizon, William B. Peterson has been promoted to general counsel of the company’s operations in Pennsylvania and Delaware. He replaces longtime general counsel Julia Ann Conover, who retired last month after more than two decades with the company. Prior to his promotion, Peterson was assistant general counsel and was responsible for litigating wholesale matters throughout Verizon’s national service area. His new role will call for him to be responsible for regulatory, litigation and corporate legal matters in Pennsylvania and Delaware. Peterson, though, said his focus will be primarily on litigation and regulatory matters, while more of the corporate work will be handled by other Verizon lawyers. He will be responsible for three other attorneys in his group. “A lot of what I see myself doing is helping [political and regulatory] decision-makers understand how much the telecommunications world is changing,” Peterson said. “Six or seven years ago people talked about competition from a much more narrow perspective. Now competition means cable, Internet, long-distance, cell phones and much more.” Peterson said he could soon be faced with fallout from February’s announced merger of Verizon and MCI, a deal that should close by the end of the year. But his resume indicates that he should be prepared for the challenge. In 1989, he graduated from the University of Pennsylvania Law School, where he was editor-in-chief of the school’s law review. After graduation, he served as a law clerk for Judge George C. Pratt of the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. He began his career in private practice as an associate at Hangley Connolly Epstein Chicco Foxman & Ewing, where he stayed for three years before joining the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Philadelphia as an assistant U.S. attorney in the criminal division. Peterson returned to private practice in 1997, when he became an associate at Washington, D.C.’s Kellogg Huber Hansen Todd Evans & Figel — one of the nation’s top firms for representing telecommunications clientele. He said he mainly handled appellate work while there. He returned to work with friends William Hangley and Mark Aronchick, who had since formed Hangley Aronchick Segal & Pudlin, in 1999. A little over a year later, he joined Verizon. “I had the opportunity to work with two of Philadelphia’s top litigators in Mark Aronchick and Bill Hangley, and I also had the chance to work with two of the nation’s best telecommunications lawyers in Michael Kellogg and Austin Schlick,” Peterson said. “I had a great training ground in both trial work and appellate.” Kellogg said Peterson possesses all of the necessary qualities to become a good general counsel — litigation expertise, industry knowledge, legal acumen and the ability to manage people. “The industry is changing dramatically, so I think the regulatory landscape will change with it,” Kellogg said. “That means that companies like Verizon are going to need in-house people with the background and intelligence of Bill. He’s a great choice.” Both Hangley and Aronchick said Peterson was a fast-rising star at their firm before he decided to move on. “He was one of the best young lawyers I ever worked with,” Aronchick said. “He’s brilliant, has a steady manner and great judgment. He was also a good manager from a young age and ran a lot of our associate assignments during his time with us. And he also is very principled — and Lord knows we need that in corporate America.” Peterson said Verizon’s primary local outside counsel, not surprisingly, includes Hangley Aronchick along with Pepper Hamilton and Obermayer Rebmann Maxwell & Hippel. He said Kellogg Huber and a few other firms from outside the Delaware Valley also handle outside counsel work.

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