ABA AdLaw Section Member Spotlight Series: Russell Frisby, Jr., by Linda Jellum
We thought you might like to learn more about members in the ABA Administrative Law & Regulatory Practice Section, so we have restarted our Section Member Spotlight Series. Prior posts in this series can be found here, on the Section’s legacy Notice and Comment blog that merged with the Yale Journal on Regulation‘s blog in 2015.
The next profile in our member spotlight series is a giant in our section, H. Russell Frisby, Jr. Russell was Section Chair when I, Linda Jellum, joined the section and has served in many other roles, most recently on the ABA Board of Governors as our Section’s representative. He is a partner at Stinson LLP, in its D.C. Office.
Q: What is your current position, where is it located, and how does it relate to administrative law?
As partner, I lead the firm’s Telecommunications Practice and am Co-Leader of its State Regulatory Practice Group. I have a general administrative law practice involving telecommunications, energy, water, transportation and government solutions matters. I routinely practice before federal agencies such as the Federal Communications Commission, and have appeared before many of this country’s public service commissions. As the past Chair of the Maryland Public Service Commission, I stay in regular contact with state utility commissioners throughout the United States. Much of my practice has revolved around cutting edge regulatory issues such as telecommunications deregulation, and electric restructuring and market entry, as well as in representing clients in connection with seeking approval for Offshore Wind projects and helping to secure Uber’s entry into Maryland. I have also been involved in more routine rate and merger and acquisition cases, and major Civil Rights cases.
Q: What is your current or past position within the ABA Administrative Law & Regulatory Practice Section?
I currently serve on the ABA Board of Governors as the Section’s representative. I am on the Board’s Member Services Committee and served as the 2019-2020 Chair of the Board’s Governance Committee. Immediately prior to joining the Board, I served as one of the Section’s ABA House Delegates. I have been active in the Section for many years starting as a young member, then Committee Chair, Assistant Budget Officer, Council Member and ultimately Section Chair.
Q: How has membership in the ABA Administrative Law & Regulatory Practice Section furthered your career?
Membership in the Section has furthered my practice in many ways. First and foremost, I have enjoyed the Section’s comradery. I have benefited from the Section’s education programs and even more from the general discussions of legal issues that take place during the course of typical Council meetings. More than once I have been able to cite principles of administrative law about which other lawyers were unaware or to recommend that they refer to a book or article drafted by a Section member. All of this has been a real boon to my practice.
Q: What was the best advice you got along the way to where you are now?
The best advice I ever got was from my grandfather, Dr. Herbert M. Frisby (educator, scientist, arctic explorer). He told me that I should never be afraid to think outside of the box or to go my own way if I thought that I was correct. This advice has helped me particularly as I have had to craft unique solutions to cutting edge or difficult regulatory issues.
Q: What has been the most exciting event of your career that involves administrative law?
Actually the most exciting events involving administrative law occurred during the seven years (1998-2005) that I took a hiatus from the active practice of law to serve as President of the Competitive Communications Association. Our largest members were pre-acquisition AT&T and MCI. We were engaged in a national fight to ensure that competitive telecommunications carriers could access critical incumbent facilities in a reasonable fashion and at fair rates. I was one of the principal spokespersons for the competitive industry. At one point this battle was referred to as the biggest “food fight” in Washington. Each side spent billions of dollars on advocacy. We were before the D.C. Circuit on numerous occasions. Many Section members were also involved on one side or another. Although we ultimately lost on many (but not all) of our issues after the White House sided with the incumbents, it was not only an exciting period, but it gave me real lessons in practical and hard fought administrative and regulatory law, including understanding how administrative law could affect national policy in areas that Congress dodged.
Want to join the section? Visit www.americanbar.org/adminlaw and choose “Join the Section.” Or contact the ABA customer service department at 1-800-285-2221 to join. Questions? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Linda D. Jellum is Past -Chair of the ABA Section of Administrative Law and Regulatory Practice and the Associate Dean for Faculty Research and Development and the Ellison Capers Palmer Sr. Professor of Tax Law at the Mercer University School of Law.