Sean Lev has been named general counsel of the Federal Communications Commission, replacing Austin Schlick, who will step down in mid-June.
Currently deputy general counsel at the FCC, Lev joined the agency at the beginning of the year from the Department of Energy, where he served as acting general counsel and deputy general counsel for environment and nuclear programs. Before he joined Energy in 2009, Lev was a partner at Kellogg, Huber, Hansen, Todd, Evans & Figel specializing in telecom and administrative law.
Schlick, who has not announced his future plans, is also a former partner at Kellogg Huber. He’s served as the FCC’s top legal officer since 2009, spearheading reform efforts including strengthening ex parte disclosure, expanding online filing and access to FCC dockets and improving cost/benefit analysis. According to the FCC, agency lawyers on his watch prevailed in more than 90 percent of court cases challenging rules issued under chairman Julius Genachowski.
In a written statement, Genachowski praised Schlick as “one of a kind – a great counselor and a great manager, visionary and practical, brilliant and wise.” He continued, “I am confident that excellent work will continue under the leadership of Sean Lev. Sean has deep experience and expertise, and we are lucky to have him at the agency.”
Former Department of Energy GC Scott Blake Harris, now GC of NeuStar Inc., was Lev’s boss at DOE. Harris described him as “a brilliant legal thinker, a thoughtful adviser, a persuasive advocate and an effective manager. He is always calm, careful, pleasant and straightforward — and he will be a world-class general counsel."
Samuel Feder, a former FCC general counsel who is now a partner at Jenner & Block, is equally enthusiastic about Lev, who he worked with years ago at Kellogg Huber. “Sean Lev is a terrific lawyer and is perfect for the job,” he said. “He is one of the best brief writers I have ever worked with, and his knowledge of administrative law is second to none.”
Lev, who earned his J.D. from Harvard Law School in 1992, clerked for Judge Patricia Wald of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, then joined the Justice Department through its honors program, working as an appellate attorney in the Civil Division.