Some of the top legal minds in communications convened in Washington, D.C., Wednesday evening to celebrate Cablefax’s inaugural Top Lawyers honorees, selected by our readers and editors. It was a collegial crowd, who often had either worked together or in some cases on opposing sides. One attendee quipped that it felt a bit like a reunion from the days of former FCC chairman William Kennard.

Former CNN anchor Frank Sesno, author of the book “Ask More: The Power of Questions to Open Doors, Uncover Solutions, and Spark Change,”  spoke to the crowd about questions that make a difference. Right now, in a world where news stories are being called fake and phrases like alternative facts are being batted around, Sesno says his number one question is “how do you know?”. One of the keys to asking better questions is to be a better listener.  As director of George Washington University’s School of Media and Public Affairs, Sesno gives student a listening/questioning exercise in which they must spend 30 minutes interviewing a family member without once using the words “I” or “me.” “It’s harder than you think,” he told the room.

There were moments of levity during the night at the National Press Club as the Top Lawyer honorees recounted their favorite fictional lawyers. Vincent LaGuardia Gambini, depicted by Joe Pesci in “My Cousin Vinny,” was a crowd favorite, in part for his determination. It did take him six attempts to pass the bar after all. EchoStar regulatory affairs svp Jennifer Manner impressed the crowd with perhaps the most obscure fictional lawyer reference of the night, Fred Gailey— the lawyer who proved Santa Claus was real in “Miracle on 34th Street.” Endi Piper, TV One’s svp, business and legal affairs, threw out Clair Huxtable of “The Cosby Show” as one of her faves. Remarking that while Huxtable was an attorney, she was portrayed on the show as a mother, a wife, a confident female, Piper said she believed that it illustrated what we do outside of work is important in shaping who we are.

There were serious moments too. Time Warner public policy vp Kyle Dixon reflected on the impact Susan Eid had on so many in the room. The former evp of DirecTV passed away in 2014. Dixon and Eid served as legal advisers together to then FCC chairman Michael Powell.  Francisco Montero made a call for the hiring of more attorneys who reflect the diverse world we live in, recalling how he was an early advocate for Hispanic broadcasters in the US in part because he was one of the few people who could speak the language.

View our special report highlighting all of Cablefax’s Top Lawyers and check out photos from the event.

The full list of honorees:

  • James Assey, NCTA – The Internet & Television Association
  • Ryan Baker, Baker Marquart
  • Catherine Bohigian, Charter
  • Burt Braverman, Davis Wright Tremaine
  • Matthew Brill, Latham & Watkins,
  • Lynn Charytan,Comcast Cable
  • Rick Chessen, NCTA – The Internet & Television Association
  • Michelle Cohen, Ifrah
  • Maurita Coley Flippin, Multicultural Media Telcom and Internet Council
  • Seth Davidson, Mintz Levin
  • Tom Davidson, Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld
  • Kyle Dixon, Time Warner
  • Stanton Dodge, DISH
  • Yaron Dori, Covington & Burling 
  • Gil Ehrenkranz, Manatt, Phelps & Phillips
  • Barbara Esbin, Cinnamon Mueller
  • Susan Fox, Disney
  • Jamie Gallagher, AMC Networks
  • Paul Glist, Davis Wright Tremaine
  • John Hane, Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman
  • Nathaniel Hardy, Marashlian & Donahue,
  • Kimberley Harris, NBCU
  • Wes Heppler, Davis Wright Tremaine
  • Jennifer Hightower, Cox Communications
  • Henry Hoberman, A+E Networks
  • Kimberly Hulsey, Scripps Networks Interactive
  • Rick Kaplan, NAB
  • Henry Kelly, Kelley, Drye & Warren
  • Gene Kimmelman, Public Knowledge
  • Ilene Knable Gotts, Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz
  • Ross Lieberman, American Cable Association
    · Suzanne Lopez, FremantleMedia North America
  • Jennifer Manner, EchoStar Corporation
  • Barbara Meili, Greenberg Traurig
  • Francisco Montero, Fletcher Heald & Hildreth
  • Matthew Murchison, Latham & Watkins
  • Keith Murphy, Viacom
  • Elizabeth Newell,Discovery Communications
  • Endi Piper, TV One
  • Robyn Polashuk, Covington & Burling
  • Thomas C. Power, CTIA
  • Jennifer L. Richter, Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld
  • Richard Rosen, Arnold & Porter
  • Faiza Saeed, Cravath, Swaine & Moore
  • Jonathan Sallet, Brookings Institution
  • Louise Sams, Turner
  • Austin Schlick, Google
  • Michael Schooler, NCTA – The Internet & Television Association
  • Jared Sher, 21st Century Fox
  • Gigi Sohn
  • Paresh Trivedi, Proskauer
  • Joseph Young, Mediacom

Order additional awards here.

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