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University of Michigan Law School, JD, magna cum laude, 1980
Ann Arbor, MI
Order of the Coif
Articles and Executive Editor, Michigan Law Review, 1979–80
Associate Editor, Michigan Law Review, 1978–79

University of Tennessee, BS, with highest honors, 1977
Knoxville, TN

Bar Admissions

District of Columbia

United States Supreme Court

United States Courts of Appeals for the District of Columbia, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Ninth and Eleventh Circuits

United States District Court for the District of Columbia


The Hon. John C. Godbold, Chief Judge of the US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, 1980-1981


American Bar Association

Federal Communications Bar Association

District of Columbia Bar Association

National Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisors (NATOA)

International Municipal Lawyers Association

Tillman L. Lay Partner

When the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) issued a ruling that would have cost local governments nationwide over $75 million in annual cable franchise fees, Tim Lay represented them, appealing the FCC's decision and successfully persuading the court to overturn it.

And when local governments needed to secure authority to tax wireless services, they again turned to Tim. He helped negotiate an agreement among wireless industry and state and local government representatives that led directly to the federal Mobile Telecommunications Sourcing Act of 2000, providing the desired taxing mechanism.

Tim’s skill in handling such complex telecommunications issues and his devotion to fighting for the underdog has advanced him to the forefront of his profession, frequently representing scores of local governments and their associations nationwide before Congress, the FCC and the courts.

“I provide my communications clients no-nonsense advice in the complex and constantly-changing communications law arena,” says Tim. “That means translating sometimes bewilderingly complex technical concepts and rules into plain English and helping clients understand the impact that FCC rulings, court decisions and legislation will have on their operations and budgets. I work to maximize the benefits, and minimize the adverse effects, for my clients.”

Because most of Tim’s clients are in the public sector or are small entrepreneurs, he’s attuned to cost concerns. “Where litigation, agency representation or lobbying is necessary to bend FCC, court or legislative actions to serve my clients’ interests, I’m able to represent them forcefully at reasonable cost. I get satisfaction representing the underdog against large corporate communications giants — the underdogs deserve as high quality representation as corporate giants, and I take pride in providing that.”

Practice Focus

Substantial experience in litigation and counseling on communications, antitrust, tax, land use, utility and constitutional law matters before administrative agencies, federal courts and international tribunals. For the past 20 years, his practice has been devoted primarily to communications matters, representing clients on telecommunications, broadband, cable television and broadcasting matters before Congress, the FCC, the U.S. Department of Justice and federal courts.

Representative Matters

  • He advised the City of Eugene, Oregon, in drafting and successfully defending in court a telecommunications ordinance that has generated substantial new revenue for the city to help fund its telecommunications projects.
  • Tim represented the National League of Cities in negotiations with the telecommunications industry in drafting what became the Mobile Telecommunications Sourcing Act of 2000, 4 U.S.C. §§ 116 et seq. The Act provides a constitutional and uniform means for state and local governments to impose taxes on wireless telecommunications services and providers.
  • On behalf of the National League of Cities, Tim was a major participant in lobbying efforts for several municipal clients during the 1992 Cable Act and the Telecommunications Act of 1996.


  • Tim co-authored the National League of Cities’ handbook The Telecommunications Act of 1996: What It Means to Local Governments, as well as a similar handbook for the American Planning Association, the National Association of Counties and the American Public Works Association, entitled Implementing the New Telecommunications Law — A County and Local Officials Guide to the Telecommunications Act of 1996.
  • He has been a faculty member at the Practising Law Institute’s annual seminars on cable television.
  • Tim has published articles on the Telecommunications Act of 1996, on the effect of telecommunications convergence on federalism, on the role of local governments in telecommunications policy and investment, and on antitrust and regulatory issues relating to telecommunications common carriers and information service providers.
  • Tim has been recognized as an AV Preeminent-Top Rated Lawyer® by ALM Media.