An FCC Internship Experience
by Sev MacPete
My internship was a unique learning experience that could not be duplicated in any classroom. This summer the FCC was aggressively involved in activities to implement the new Telecommunications Act of 1996, the first re-write of national telecommunications policy since 1932. Furthermore, Congress set out an arduous time-table. With passage on February 1, 1996 and Presidential approval on February 8th, six months were allocated for the bulk of the implementation work. August 8th was the deadline for most of the rulemaking that the FCC must undertake to get the process moving to full competition in all markets.
During my fourteen-week assignment, which began on May 1st, I was immediately immersed in meaningful, significant, and necessary work to help speed the process. Almost no time was wasted, and many significant projects were completed.
These projects included significant rulemaking on §§251 and 252 interconnection, provisions for local exchange carriers. This 776 page document, into I had significant input, was issued on August 6, 1996, a full week early. It was issued a full week early on August 1, 1996. Chairman Reed Hundt thanked all the staff attorneys for their hard work in a unique way...he had movie-like credits broadcast on the monitors in the Commission meeting room and on the live telecast carried by C-SPAN. I was listed with the attorneys of the Office of General Counsel who worked on the regulations, and not identified as an intern. The printed and Internet versions of the document carried the same credits. I was thrilled.
I learned a lot about myself and about the profession. I saw highly competent, dedicated lawyers within and outside the government. I also saw incompetence in lawyers, judges, and especially in Congress. I was able to contrast the purely academic side of the law and economics with what goes on in government and in the private sector as well.
The internship served as an excellent bridge between law school and practice. My work did not have to stand alone. Many other eyes viewed it before it “hit the streets”. I discovered that I am ready to tackle the profession, to handle tough cases, and to argue at the highest levels. I was completely surprised when I was given an award “in recognition of ... high quality performance as an intern in the Office of General Counsel” during my going away party. Any lingering doubts I had about my ability to practice were extinguished.
I would encourage anyone who wants to be a lawyer to participate in an internship in your chosen area of practice. You will learn much about lawyering and lawyers, but, most of all, you will learn a lot about yourself.