After 24 years in-house, Verizon deputy general counsel John Thorne has joined Kellogg, Huber, Hansen, Todd, Evans & Figel as partner.
Thorne, who began work at his new job yesterday, is widely known for his antitrust work on behalf of the telecom giant, including litigating three successful U.S. Supreme Court cases, as well as his role as head of Verizon's intellectual property group. Global Counsel Awards named him the best in-house competition lawyer in the world in 2009.
The lawyers at Kellogg Huber are old friends, Thorne said – he’s co-authored five books, including Federal Telecommunications Law, with name partners Michael Kellogg and Peter Huber – and he's turned to the firm as outside counsel for years.
Thorne said he left Verizon simply because he was ready for a change. "I want to do new things," he said, noting that it's not uncommon for in-house lawyers at the company to return to law firms. For him, Kellogg Huber was the clear choice – Thorne said he didn’t even talk to any other firms.
"John is a terrific lawyer," said Michael Kellogg. "He has great energy and expertise, particularly in antitrust and dealing with mergers and other proceedings.…We think he’s going to be a tremendous asset."
Thorne readily admits that he comes with no clients – not even Verizon. The company has a policy that lawyers who leave can't represent the company in private practice for six months.
At Verizon, Thorne was involved in numerous high-profile cases, foremost among them the U.S. Supreme Court cases Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, (2007); Verizon v. Trinko, LLP (2004); and NYNEX v. Discon (1998).
Other matters include eliminating restrictions on the Bell companies in the AT&T antitrust decree, defeating all other antitrust cases against Bell Atlantic, NYNEX, Verizon, and Verizon Wireless growing out of the 1996 Telecom Act; and winning antitrust and regulatory clearance for the mergers that formed Verizon and Verizon Wireless including mergers with Bell Atlantic, NYNEX, Metro Mobile, GTE, AirTouch, MCI, Alltel, and Terremark.
In another notable deal, he negotiated the contract and won Federal Communications Commission approval to buy $8.7 billion of wireless spectrum from NextWave, then later won elimination of the obligation to buy the spectrum and, still later, Justice Department approval to re-buy the spectrum for a mere $3.9 billion.
At Kellogg Huber, Thorne said he hopes to work on mergers as well as other DOJ and FCC matters, intellectual property issues, and collaborative, industry-wide initiatives.
Before he joined Verizon predecessor Bell Atlantic in 1988, Thorne spent four years at Ameritech Corp. Prior to that, he was an associate at Kirkland & Ellis.
Lawyers who know him predict he’ll succeed.
"When John was inside counsel at Verizon he was widely regarded as one of the leading inside antitrust experts," said Hogan Lovells antitrust partner Janet McDavid. "He is now bringing those skills and his inside-counsel insights to private practice."