FCC Member Abernathy To Join Akin Gump Law Firm
By Ashby Jones
The Wall Street Journal
Monday, March 13, 2006
Kathleen Quinn Abernathy, a former commissioner at the
Federal Communications Commission, is joining Akin Gump
Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP's Washington, D.C., office as a
partner in the law firm's communications and
Ms. Abernathy, 49 years old, will counsel the firm's media
and telecommunication clients on policy-related and
regulatory issues. She starts March 29.
"This is great news for us," said Tom Davidson, the head of
the department. "We've been looking for a high-profile,
senior person like this for a number of years and were
fortunate to be able to land her."
In December, Ms. Abernathy left the FCC after her term as
commissioner expired. (Her initial term expired in 2004 but
was extended.) In February, President Bush nominated
telecommunications attorney Robert M. McDowell to fill Ms.
During her tenure, which began in May 2001, Ms. Abernathy
oversaw a number of high-profile acquisitions, including
News Corp.'s 2003 purchase of
DirecTV Group Inc.,
Verizon Communications Inc.'s 2005 acquisition of MCI
Inc. and SBC Communications Inc.'s purchase of AT&T Corp. to
AT&T Inc., which also occurred last year. The FCC,
during her tenure, defined the regulatory framework for
broadband services offered by phone companies and grappled
with setting standards for media-ownership levels.
Ms. Abernathy initially anticipated that, upon leaving the
FCC, she would re-enter the corporate world. (Before
serving at the FCC, Ms. Abernathy served as a vice president
of public policy at BroadBand Office Communications Inc.)
"But my meetings with Akin Gump convinced me that a law firm
offered a much more flexible venue," she said, referring to
her ability to represent different clients in a variety of
different forums, both in the U.S. and internationally.
Ms. Abernathy said she chose Akin Gump over other firms that
courted her because the firm had "tremendous lawyers on
board," many of whom were working on international issues.
Before working at BroadBand Office Communications, Ms.
Abernathy held senior positions at AirTouch Communications
Inc. (part of
Vodafone Group PLC's Vodafone AirTouch PLC) and U S West
Communications Inc. (part of
Qwest Communications International Inc.) She holds
degrees from Marquette University and from Catholic
University's Columbus School of Law. She has spent her
entire career in the telecommunications industry.
Write to Ashby Jones at