Deborah Lathen is a nationally recognized lawyer and leader known for tackling cutting-edge, complex business, policy, and legal issues in challenging environments and for management and leadership skills that motivate and encourage subordinates as team members and to be future leaders. Her expertise includes Telecommunications and New Media, Corporate Governance, Civil Litigation, Mergers & Acquisitions, Government Accountability & Ethics, Consumer Affairs, and Labor Law.
President | Lathen Consulting LLC – Washington, DC 2001–Present. Industry Expert and Advocate sought out by hundreds of Wall Street and international investment and hedge fund companies. Provides strategic advice on some of the hottest and most transformative issues in telecommunications today, including Time Warner/ Comcast proposed merger, Time Warner/Charter merger, and AT&T/DirectTV merger. Serves as an intelligence resource for companies seeking to better understand and influence the regulatory process. Educates clients with respect to the process, procedures, and “politics” of the FCC and its interface with the executive and legislative branches. Thought leader helping to shape views on key telecom issues, such as Net Neutrality, Broadband deployment, and the commercial availability of set-top boxes.
Highlights of Individual Client Projects and Outcomes: (company names withheld for confidentiality)
• Advocated and obtained a regulatory waiver rescuing a Fortune 100 set top box provider and network manufacturer from a regulation which threatened its core business and could have potentially eliminated the major source of its revenue.
• Developed an extensive early alert tracking system allowing preemptive actions to thwart future regulations potentially harmful to the business.
• Designed and implemented an “educational program” pairing senior company executives with influential government and industry executives. Provided in-depth, full-day briefing to the CEO and senior managers on regulatory matters impactful to their business on an ongoing basis.
• Designed and launched an advocacy plan to assist a national telecommunications company in obtaining approval for the launch of its broadband video service in local communities.
• Tracked and analyzed FCC and Hill matters relevant to the launch and advised senior executives on regulatory strategies.
• Authored op-eds in support of its business strategies and testified before local government authorities as an expert.
• Assisted with development and implementation of a major telecom company’s FCC federal regulatory plan; researched and analyzed pending laws, rule making, and regulations relevant to its’ business.
• Retained to handle all regulatory matters for a high tech company. Obtained a waiver display of new product prior to meeting FCC full licensing requirements; advocated for an enforcement action against a competitor for bidding contract violations.
• Conducted extensive review of Public Safety First Responder Network spectrum licenses issued by the FCC to the City of Chicago resulting in sweeping recommendations to the Office of Emergency Management & Planning and the city’s Corporation Counsel.
• Served as on-call subject matter expert to top-tier Wall Street and international firms on current telecom matters including net neutrality, major mergers, retransmission consent, broadcast ownership, cable attribution, program access rules, and other matters. Advised analysts from the UK, Australia, Canada, Singapore, and India.
Bureau Chief | Cable Services Bureau, Federal Communications Commission – Washington, DC -- Appointed by President Clinton and reported to the Chairman of the FCC. Led a bureau of 112 lawyers, accountants, engineers, and economists in setting policies and crafting regulations covering the cable, satellite TV, and broadcast industries. Headed the agency’s efforts on broadband deployment, video programming, and Internet policy issues. Served as lead person for the development and implementation of the national broadband policy. Led the review of 3 major mergers: $108 billion AOL/Time Warner; $58 billion AT&T/Media One; $50 billion AT&T/TCI.
Oversaw the agency’s implementation of the Satellite Home Viewers Improvement Act (SHVIA) which made sweeping changes to the law governing satellite TV and cleared the way for consumers to receive local TV channels over satellite. Spearheaded the revision of the hotly contested and complex cable ownership and attribution rules which determine how many cable subscribers a single company may own nationwide. Authored first extensive report on Broadband, Understanding Broadband (1999) recently published in Broadcasting and Cable.
Nissan Motor Corporation, USA – Carson, CA Director, National Consumer Affairs
Established corporate policy for National Consumer Affairs. Promoted to the second highest tier of management heading a department of 70 people who resolved customer complaints nationwide. Provided risk assessment advice on recalls, service campaigns, and state and federal contract actions against the company.
• Implemented changes to Nissan’s National Consumer Affairs Department (NCAD) that improved customer service levels by 80%. Coordinated the NCAD’s role in the first voluntary repurchase program in the history of the automotive industry involving 30,000 vehicles.
• At the recommendation of Nissan Japan, the parent company, promoted to become the first African American woman member of the executive management team for all of Nissan USA.
Managing Counsel -- Promoted to Managing Counsel and appointed to Legal Department’s management team. Selected to serve as Chief Counsel and negotiator leading a team of senior executives from Nissan Japan. Successfully negotiated multibillion-dollar, complex design & development and manufacturing contracts for the joint venture development of the Nissan Quest and the Lincoln Mercury Villager produced by the Ford Motor Company. Conceptualized the legal structure and incorporated Nissan’s reinsurance and captive insurance companies in Hawaii, California, Nevada, and Arizona. Created and established the Nissan Foundation and served as the Foundation Secretary.
Senior Attorney-- Managed two lawyers and a paralegal. Accountable for transactional work for Nissan USA which included real estate, procurement, reinsurance, contracts, and lemon law.
Early Career Experience
Senior Counsel | TRW – Orange, CA |
Labor Attorney | Foley & Lardner – Milwaukee, WI
Litigation Attorney | The Quaker Oats Company – Chicago, IL
Defended a breach of contract action resulting in a $950,000 award to The Quaker Oats Company. Second chair responsibility for defending a $9.5 million breach of contract action resulting in a complete victory for defendant (received the Chairman’s Special Achievement Award).
Key Speaking and Panel Appearances (partial listing)
• Appeared on CSPAN, PBS, and CNN as a telecom expert
• Testified before Congress on major telecom issues
• Participated on numerous FCC panels
• National Association of Mayors
• National Association of Governors
• Town Hall Los Angeles
• London Financial Times
• Duke University
• Harvard Law School
• University of Washington
• British American Roundtable
• Sino / US Media Conference Beijing, China
• Minorities in Media and Telecommunications (MMTC)
• British Telecom Senior Women's Association
• Rainbow/Push Wall Street Financial Summit
• Congressional Black Caucus
J.D. — Harvard Law School
A.B. -- Cornell University, magna cum laude in Government, with distinctions in all subjects
Admitted to practice before courts of Wisconsin, Illinois, and California
Affiliations & Honors
Board of Directors, Multicultural Media, Media, Telecommunications, and Internet Council—2000–Present Not for profit focused on giving voice to minority issues to regulators and on obtaining access to broadband for all Americans as well as promoting diversity in media ownership and programming.
Founding Board Member, DC Office of Government Ethics and Accountability — 2011–2016. Chosen by Mayor of DC and confirmed by the City Council as one of three founding board members of the District of Columbia Board of Ethics and Government Accountability, which was established after a rash of ethical violations that resulted in the imprisonment of several City Council members.
Board of Directors, BT (British Telecom) — 2007–2010. Served on the Corporate Social Responsibility Committee and the Remunerations Committee. First African American to be elected to BT’s Board.
Selected by The HistoryMakers, an organization that chronicles lives of accomplished African Americans. Six-hour video interview is a part of the Library of Congress’s collection.
Founder/Secretary of the Nissan Foundation in Los Angeles .
Founder -- Tech&Roses --an organization established for women in technology to be of mutual support to each member.
Former Board Member
Rails to Trails Conservancy
Safe Harbor Women’s Shelter
Corporate Governance, Ethics and Regulation Expert, Attorney Deborah A. Lathen Esq.