The term “Communications Law” encompasses a broad range of legal and regulatory issues involving the provision of the following services and platforms: wired and wireless telecommunications, broadcasting, cable television, the Internet, satellite communications, and information services. Communications lawyers represent providers and users of these services, as well as manufacturers of equipment, technology developers, application service providers, and other industry participants. Practitioners appear at federal, state, and local levels in courts, regulatory agencies, and legislative bodies, where they assist clients in shaping the laws, regulations, and policies governing telecommunications and media operations. They also assist clients in obtaining required licenses, negotiating and documenting transactions, maintaining compliance with communications laws and policies, and defending enforcement actions. In the international arena, communications lawyers participate in bilateral negotiations and multinational conferences.
Communications technology, law, policy, and regulation evolve continually, so the definition of Communications Law is extremely dynamic. For example, recent developments in communications technologies have extended the reach of communications law to cover new applications in diverse fields ranging from online and mobile media to energy and health care, and have raised significant issues in the areas of privacy and consumer protection.
Today’s communications, information, and technology markets have profound impacts both on the domestic and world economies and on the daily lives of virtually everyone. Communications lawyers help put their clients in a position to succeed in these competitive markets by devising policy positions and advocacy strategies, advising on best compliance practices and obtaining needed approvals. They must become familiar with the nuts and bolts of the technologies used by their clients in their business operations, and must master the changing legal and regulatory landscapes in which clients conduct those operations. Novel issues often challenge attorneys in this field to devise new approaches for advocacy in the regulatory arena, transactional negotiations, and litigation. Clients seeking communications counsel should seek out firms and attorneys who have deep subject matter expertise, but who also have demonstrated the ability to adapt to new developments and learn new things in order to better protect and advance client interests in this constantly shifting legal and regulatory landscape.