Jonathan V. Cohen

Office Washington DC

Tech, media, and telecom companies turn to Jonathan Cohen for advice as they navigate a continually shifting legal, technological and political landscape. Decades of transactional and policy experience (in private practice and in government) enable him to efficiently advise clients regarding strategies and details in their dealings with other industry players and with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and other executive branch agencies whose work touches their interests. His expertise ranges from media (both traditional and social) to broadband wireless, and from commercial transactions to regulatory policy. Mr. Cohen’s government service included stints at The White House and the FCC, and he is an expert in platform regulation issues, spectrum licensing and transactions, and the rules and processes governing participation in FCC auctions. His clients have singled out his “outstanding service” on corporate and commercial transactions for nationwide recognition. He holds the Martindale Hubbell AV® Preeminent Peer Review Rating and is perennially selected as a Washington DC Super Lawyer.

After announcing football and basketball games for his college radio station, Jonathan’s career began as a radio news reporter in New York City. Communications law therefore was a natural fit for him after obtaining his law degree. Over his legal career in the media and telecom arenas, Jonathan has negotiated and closed countless telecom transactions and worked on a wide variety of policy issues. He is a proud alumnus of The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and Georgetown University Law Center.

Representative Engagements
  • Counseled wireless industry players on spectrum policies needed for rollout of commercial mobile broadband services (including 5G services)
  • Worked on obtaining state and federal regulatory approvals for numerous media and telecom deals, including obtaining Team Telecom clearance when needed
  • Assisted both broadcast and wireless industry clients in navigating the intricacies of the virtually all of the significant spectrum auctions since 1998, including the FCC’s innovative broadcast spectrum incentive auction, which repurposed low-band spectrum from television broadcast to mobile broadband use
  • Represented Amtrak in spectrum acquisitions and regulatory approvals needed for the deployment of the Positive Train Control technology
  • Represented Centennial Communications Corp. in its $944 million merger with AT&T Inc., and Atlantic Tele-Network, Inc. (now ATN International, Inc.) in securing approval for its $200 million acquisition of wireless facilities and customers in 26 markets in six states from Verizon Wireless
  • On behalf of Cingular Wireless (now AT&T), devised and implemented structures to accomplish the unwind of a complex infrastructure-sharing arrangement with T-Mobile USA, a process that involved dozens of agreements and numerous FCC approvals
  • Assisted Cingular Wireless in a broad range of transactions, including its merger with AT&T Wireless Services, a $1.4 billion spectrum acquisition from NextWave Telecom Inc.; and the acquisition of controlling interests in several affiliates that had acquired licenses as “designated entities” under the FCC’s rules
  • Devised the template for the first spectrum lease agreements executed under a new FCC policy in 2003. Many elements of these spectrum leases have become the standard in the industry
  • While at the FCC, advised two FCC Chairmen, co-authored rules for FCC spectrum auctions and directed the FCC’s first broadband PCS auction, which brought digital technology to the mobile phone industry and generated $7.7 billion for the U.S. Treasury, earning a place in the Guinness Book of World Records as the largest auction to date
  • Frequently a featured speaker at industry conferences and client seminars
  • Senior Federal Communications Commission staff positions in the Chairman’s Office, Office of Plans and Policy, and Wireless Telecommunications and Mass Media Bureaus (1993-1998)
  • Assistant Counsel to President Clinton in The White House Office of Presidential Personnel (1993)
  • Clinton for President Campaign and Presidential Transition, Washington, DC (1992-1993)
  • Associate in two Washington, D.C. communications law firms (1982-1991)
  • News Reporter, WXLO-FM, New York, NY (1978-1979)
See All +
  • Washington, DC SuperLawyer (2013-2021)
  • Recommended by Legal 500 US (2017-2019)
  • Martindale Hubbell AV® Preeminent Peer Review Rating (ongoing)
  • One of 86 Attorneys Nationwide Named to the BTI Transactions All-Star Team (2008)
  • Member, Tech, Media and Telecom Policy Group, 2008 Presidential Campaign of Barack Obama
  • Director of Outreach, Van Hollen for Congress (2002) (while on leave of absence from WBK)
  • Private Sector Advisor – U.S. Department of State delegation to the World Telecommunications Development Conference, Istanbul, Turkey (2002)
  • Recipient of the “Hammer Award” from Vice President Al Gore’s National Performance Review for Reinventing Government (1995)
  • Dealmaker of the Month, The American Lawyer magazine (May 1995)
  • Member, Federal Communications Bar Association (Former Co-Chair, Committee on Global Telecommunications Development)
See All +
Pro Bono and Volunteer Projects
  • WBK Pro Bono Project | Maryland Parole Partnership
    • Working to assist our client, a person serving a life sentence at the Roxbury Correctional Institution in Hagerstown, Maryland, to prepare his written case to the Maryland Parole Commission. Our client has been in prison since 1975 (when he was 19).
  • Co-chair, Federal Communications Bar Association’s Ad Hoc Committee on Emerging Issues in Tech
  • Organized a multi-session program for the Federal Communications Bar Association to contribute to the current debate over regulation of online platforms.
    • On June 9, 2021, we addressed competition policy, with Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) delivering keynote remarks. I co-moderated a panel of antitrust experts discussing the issues in depth.
    • Our June 23, 2021 session on consumer protection and privacy issues also featured a panel and Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN).
    • On July 8, 2021, the series concluded with a session on social media content moderation.
      • Conducted a Q&A with then-FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr and co-moderated a panel that included senior executives from Facebook and Microsoft, the Director of the Program on Platform Regulation at Stanford’s Cyber Policy Center, and the former Executive Editor of The Washington Post.
  • Spent six years serving on the board of directors of Kol Shalom synagogue in Rockville, MD
See All +