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James M. Smith

Of Counsel
Jim Smith centers his practice in telecommunications and government relations. A telecommunications industry veteran of over 30 years’ experience as an attorney, industry association leader and communications company executive, he not only advises clients on complex regulatory issues, but has developed policies and influenced laws and regulations impacting the overall industry. Prior to joining Davis Wright in 2002, he served as Vice President, Law and Public Policy of Excel Communications, Inc., then the fifth largest long distance telecommunications company in North America. From 1990-1997, Jim was President of the Competitive Telecommunications Association (COMPTEL), leading the U.S. competitive telecom industry's advocacy culminating in the passage of the landmark Telecommunications Act of 1996. Prior to his tenure at COMPTEL, he was a partner in the Washington law firms Reed Smith Shaw & McClay and Pierson, Ball & Dowd, where he represented domestic and foreign telecommunications carriers and manufacturers and broadcast, journalistic and telecom industry associations.

Selected Recent Experience

Advisor to Board of Directors of the South Asia-Middle East-North Africa (SAMENA) Telecommunications Council
Serve as Advisor to Board of Directors and International Policy Advisor to Middle East telecom operators' council. (Ongoing)

Lifeline reform proceeding
Represent low income carriers (Lifeline ETCs) and a national verification database company in FCC Lifeline Reform proceedings. (Ongoing)

Privacy compliance issues for national and regional cable operators and telecom 
Advise national cable MSO and other telecom carriers and cable companies with respect to FCC privacy compliance issues. (Ongoing)

Healthcare Connect Universal Service Fund for national cable operator
Represent national cable MSO in connection with health care/universal service reform proceedings. (Ongoing)

Broadband infrastructure projects for broadband and wireless clients
Represented several applicants in Stimulus Act broadband infrastructure deployment grant programs, including a $400 million proposal for an undersea cable project and nationwide wireless broadband projects, as well as smaller public computer center and sustainable broadband adoption projects; continuing to advise clients on grant administration and compliance matters. (Ongoing)

FCC regulatory compliance for wireline and wireless telecom and ISP clients
Represent wireline and wireless telecom and ISP clients in rulemakings and disputes before the FCC and state public service commissions. Provide advice to clients concerning compliance with FCC and USAC regulatory requirements and statutory mandates, including successfully obtaining waivers of major regulatory requirements. (Ongoing)

Universal service for telecom and cable operator clients
Represent telecom and cable operator clients in E-Rate health care and low income universal service proceedings and disputes. (Ongoing)

Telecom privacy and law enforcement matters
Advise telecom and cable clients on a wide range of statutory and regulatory privacy and law enforcement matters (CPNI, CALEA, CDMA, etc.). (Ongoing)

FCC complaint and enforcement proceedings
Represent telecom carriers in FCC formal complaint and enforcement matters. Negotiated favorable settlements in dozens of FCC enforcement proceedings. (Ongoing)

M&A/Transfers of control for telecom clients
Successful handling of 50-state approvals for transfers of control of nationwide telecom carriers.

Prior Related Experience

Vice President, Law and Public Policy Excel Communications, Inc.
  • Led major telecom carrier’s Washington DC public policy office, supervised its regulatory affairs department, and served as the company’s chief public policy spokesman and strategist.

President, Competitive Telecommunications Association (CompTel)
  • Represented U.S. competitive telecom industry before Congress and federal and state departments and agencies. As principal industry negotiator, secured critical provisions of landmark Telecommunications Act of 1996.

Partner, Reed Smith Shaw and McClay (formerly Pierson, Ball & Dowd)
  • Represented U.S. and international telecom carriers and manufacturers, television and cable programmers and studios, and broadcast, journalistic and telecom industry groups; served as principal deputy to U.S. ambassador to World Administrative Radio Conference on Uses of Space (Space WARC).

Professional & Community Activities

  • Board of Advisors, SAMENA (South Asia/Middle East/North Africa) Telecommunications Council
  • American Bar Association
  • Past Officer, Executive Committee, Federal Communications Bar Association
  • President, Better Sports Club of Arlington (Va.)

Professional Recognition

  • Named to "Capital Pro Bono Honor Roll" by the D.C. Court of Appeals and the D.C. Superior Court, 2012
  • Listed in Who’s Who In American Law
lifeline program blog
12 from DWT's D.C office named to Capital Pro Bono Honor Roll, read release