February 18, 2014
Adrianne B. Furniss
Andrew Jay Schwartzman Leads Important New Public Interest Law Project
With Benton Foundation and Georgetown’s Institute for Public Representation
(Washington, DC) - The Benton Foundation and Georgetown Law announced today that they are establishing the Public Interest Communications Law Project, under which Andrew Jay Schwartzman will serve as the Benton Senior Counselor at Georgetown Law’s Institute for Public Representation (IPR). The Benton Senior Counselor position is supported by generous grants from The Alphawood Foundation, Ford Foundation, and the Media Democracy Fund.
IPR is a public interest law firm and law school clinic. Under the supervision of Professor Angela Campbell, IPR students and Graduate Fellows represent leading media reform organizations, civil rights and civil liberties groups, children’s advocates, consumer and religious groups, and other non-profits before the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), and the Federal Courts. The addition of the Benton Senior Counselor will expand IPR’s capacity to give voice to the needs and concerns of the nation’s most vulnerable populations in telecommunications policy debates.
“Our goal is to create a cohort of younger and more diverse advocates to work on closing the digital divide, so our most vulnerable populations can participate fully in a diverse media system and our democracy,” said Charles Benton, Chairman of the Benton Foundation. “What’s critical here is that the experiences of all people inform media and telecommunications policy decisions.”
Schwartzman, who led the Media Access Project for 34 years, is recognized by many as the “dean” of public interest communications attorneys. At IPR, he will continue to mentor and develop a new generation of media and telecommunications lawyers and represent organizations on telecommunications and media issues.
“Andy and I have worked together for many years,” said IPR Co-Director Angela Campbell. “IPR’s students and clients will benefit greatly from his participation.”
Schwartzman’s appointment will expand IPR’s capacity to provide public representation in such critical areas as the transition of traditional wireline telephone service to broadband (known “the IP transition”), Universal Service Fund reform, particularly of Lifeline and E-Rate, Diversity of Media Ownership and Spectrum Policy. Under this arrangement, Schwartzman will be able to continue his service as senior advisor to other DC-based public interest groups and his private law and consultancy practice.
“I have long sought to help create a new generation of public interest advocates able to promote the public’s First Amendment rights to have access to a diverse and vigorous debate on important issues,” said Schwartzman. “This position is an ideal way to continue and extend that mission.”
“Because diversity in the marketplace of ideas is at stake,” said Mr. Benton, “it is imperative that allies like Alphawood, Benton, Ford, the Media Democracy Fund, Georgetown’s IPR and Andy Schwartzman join together to help educate young law students and advocate for the public interest in communications."
Alphawood Foundation is a Chicago-based grant making private foundation working for an equitable, just and humane society. It awards grants to more than 200 organizations annually, primarily in the areas of advocacy, architecture and preservation, arts, domestic violence prevention, the environment, promotion and protection of the rights of LGBT citizens and people living with HIV/AIDS, and other human and civil rights.
The Benton Foundation is a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting communication in the public interest. The foundation works to ensure that media and telecommunications serve the public and enhance our democracy. We pursue this mission by seeking policy solutions that support the values of access, diversity and equity, and by demonstrating the value of media and telecommunications for improving the quality of life for all. The Benton Foundation will support the Public Interest Communications Law Project’s mentoring and representation efforts with advocacy, communications, convening, fundraising and administration. Amina Fazlullah, Benton’s Director of Policy, will work with IPR and Schwartzman on media policy areas of mutual interest, including filings and testimony. Benton and Campbell will work with writers, including Schwartzman, on articles highlighting the work.
The Ford Foundation is an independent, nonprofit grant-making organization. For more than 75 years it has worked with courageous people on the frontlines of social change worldwide, guided by its mission to strengthen democratic values, reduce poverty and injustice, promote international cooperation, and advance human achievement. With headquarters in New York, the foundation has offices in Latin America, Africa, the Middle East, and Asia.
The Institute for Public Representation (IPR) is a public interest law firm and clinical education program founded by Georgetown University Law Center in 1971. Attorneys at the Institute act as counsel for groups and individuals who are unable to obtain effective legal representation on matters that have a significant impact on issues of broad public importance. The Institute works in the areas of first amendment and media law, environmental law, civil rights and general public interest matters. IPR’s recent actions include requesting the FTC investigate websites and mobile apps that are failing to comply with rules protecting children’s online privacy; assisting non-profit community-based organizations in filing applications for low power FM licenses; commenting on proposed FCC rules that will make internet-delivered video programming accessible to persons who are deaf or hard-of-hearing; opposing broadcast mergers that lessen diversity and competition in local news; and asking the US Court of Appeals not to stay an FCC order that would lower the rates paid by inmates and their families for interstate phone calls.
The Media Democracy Fund, partners with foundations and donors to award grants that protect and promote the public’s rights in the digital age. MDF helps grant makers of all sizes and issue areas amplify their impact.
Andrew Jay Schwartzman
Andrew Jay Schwartzman is recognized by many as the “dean” of public interest communications attorneys. He is a leader in promoting civil rights and civil liberties in media and telecommunications. For nearly four decades, he has gained extraordinary knowledge about the affected industries and this has afforded him the opportunity to forge close ties with stakeholders. Because of his seniority and litigation successes, he is widely regarded as a leader in the communications bar, and thus has unique access to high-level decision makers. He is a member of the Federal Communications Commission’s Advisory Committee on Diversity in the Digital Age.
From 1978 through 2012, Schwartzman headed Media Access Project (MAP). MAP was a non-profit public interest telecommunications law firm which represented the public in promoting the First Amendment rights to speak and to hear. It sought to promote creation of a well informed electorate by insuring vigorous debate in a free marketplace of ideas. It was the chief legal strategist in efforts to oppose major media mergers and preserve policies promoting media diversity. MAP also led efforts to promote openness and innovation on broadband networks and to insure that broad and affordable public access is provided during the deployment of advanced telecommunications networks.
Schwartzman appeared on behalf of MAP before the Congress, the FCC and the courts on issues such as cable TV regulation, minority and female ownership and employment in the mass media, and on FCC jurisdiction with respect to the Internet.
One of Schwartzman’s greatest legacies and contributions to the media reform and public interest field is the cadre of highly capable attorneys who came under his tutelage during his years running Media Access Project (MAP). He devoted himself to training and motivating young law students and lawyers to engage in public interest advocacy. As Schwartzman said, “About 20 years ago, Gene Kimmelman and I spent an afternoon brainstorming about the problem that the media reform community largely consisted of aging baby-boomers. Although Media Access Project had always had law student interns, and some of them had remained in public interest work after law school, our conversation impelled me to redouble my efforts to create a cohort of younger advocates.”
Many of Schwartzman’s mentees have gone on to serve as public interest advocates and government policymakers. For example:
- Gigi Sohn is Special Counsel for External Affairs for Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler. Sohn, who worked for Schwartzman for 10 years, during which time he urged her to take leadership roles, and encouraged her to undertake her campaign to be the first openly gay member of the DC Bar Board of Governors. She cofounded and served as president of Public Knowledge, which has some twenty people working on communications and IP issues.
- Cheryl Leanza, another long-time MAP attorney, now works on media issues for the Office of Communication, Inc. United Church of Christ (OC, inc.) and the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights.
- Harold Feld is Legal Director at Public Knowledge and considered to be the leading theorist in the field.
- Parul Desai, after her service at MAP, joined the staff of Consumers Union, and is now with the Media Bureau of the Federal Communications Commission supervising low-power FM policy.
- Matthew Wood now serves as Policy Director for Free Press.
Other former MAP staff continue their work at Public Knowledge, the New America Foundation and on the Hill. MAP succeeded in efforts to channel the organization’s student interns towards public interest work as well. Former MAP interns, among others, work on media and telecommunications issues at Free Press, the New America Foundation, the National Hispanic Media Coalition, the FCC, the City of Portland, and Walnut Creek (California).
In recognition of his service as chief counsel in the public interest community’s challenge to the FCC’s June, 2003 media ownership deregulation decision, The Scientific American honored Mr. Schwartzman as one of the nation’s 50 leaders in technology for 2004. Schwartzman is also the 1994 recipient of the United Church of Christ Office of Communication’s Everett C. Parker Award and the 2004 recipient of the Media Matters Life Achievement Award. In September, 2012, Public Knowledge gave him its IP3 award “for a lifetime of work on promoting the public interest in a diverse media market place.”
Schwartzman has been a faculty member of the Johns Hopkins University School of Arts and Sciences Department of Advanced Academic Programs since 2003, where he teaches “Communications Law for Professionals.” He serves on the International Advisory Board of Southwestern Law School’s National Entertainment & Media Law Institute and was the Distinguished Lecturer in Residence at the Institute’s Summer 2004 program at Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge University. Mr. Schwartzman is a member of the Federal Communications Commission’s Advisory Committee on Diversity for Communications in the Digital Age. He is a member of the Board of Directors of the Minority Media Telecommunications Council. He served the President of the Board of the Safe Energy Communications Council from 1991 through 2003, and of the Media and Democracy Coalition from 2007-2009.
Schwartzman was the Law and Regulation Contributor to Les Brown's Encyclopedia of Television, and is the author of the telecommunications chapter in the Encyclopedia on the Consumer Movement. His work has been published in major legal and general journals, including Variety, Electronic Media, The Washington Post, COMM/ENT Law Journal and The ABA Journal. He has been a frequent guest on television and radio programs such as The Today Show, Nightline, Marketplace Radio, network evening TV newscasts, and All Things Considered.
After graduating from the University of Pennsylvania in 1968, and its law school in 1971, Schwartzman was staff counsel to the Office of Communication of the United Church of Christ. From 1974 until 1978, Schwartzman worked for the U.S. Department of Energy and predecessor agencies. He is married to Linda Lazarus, an attorney/mediator practicing in Washington, DC.