Jennifer Richter Offers Tips in Law360 on Filing a Successful FCC Petition

Akin Gump communications and information technology partner Jennifer Richter was quoted by Law360 in the article “5 Tips For Crafting A Killer FCC Petition.” Richter, who has been recognized for her thorough knowledge of Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regulatory issues, discussed how to seek favorable FCC review of a new rule or decision.

Richter said the first step for lawyers drafting a petition for reconsideration should be to focus on making it easy for the FCC to sort through the arguments in the proceeding and why the issue is important. “You should create a road map in your document and use persuasive headings and subheadings so that there is clarity in your advocacy,” she said. “It’s about being very clear about what you’re trying to achieve and why and using persuasive language while supporting that with the best precedent you can. I don’t see in a lot of advocacies at the FCC a real clarity that makes it simple for the commission to understand what the issues are and why a client is arguing for different treatment.”

Richter also said lawyers need to picture themselves serving an educational function and should not assume the FCC understands everything in the record in the same way their client does, especially in complex matters that are pending throughout several staff changeovers at the commission. She cited an example of a decade long proceeding in which she was involved, where there had been turnover among the staff: “It was very important in that case that we retell the story and all the facts in the petition for reconsideration, so that the staff didn’t have to go back to read past filings.”

There are times, Richter noted, when lawyers should avoid pursuing a petition for reconsideration if it would not end up being in the client’s favor. If the FCC missed one point, but it’s still a good result, it’s important, she said, “to think about the general working relationship with the regulator on the project.”