By Lee Alan Hill
Special to TelevisionWeek
Paul Glist’s Vanguard Award for Associates & Affiliates breaks precedent-he’s the first practicing attorney working with the cable industry to be honored by the National Cable & Telecommunications Association in this manner. Mr. Glist’s career has been almost entirely devoted to cable and telecommunications clients and issues.
Out of law school in 1978, he was recruited to work in mergers and acquisitions at a Washington law firm. “One of the first matters in which I was involved was a rollup of a mom-and-pop system by a larger operator,” said Mr. Glist, who represented the mom-and-pop in the merger. “I got hooked, I guess. I like that the cable industry was then and is now the terrain of entrepreneurs, people ready to take on the Goliaths.”
Mr. Glist, who has been a partner in the firm of Cole, Raywid & Braverman since 1985, is being honored in large measure for his representation and advocacy of numerous cable industry clients, including the NCTA itself, for which he is legal consultant. He has negotiated and consulted on the organization’s behalf on many policy issues facing the industry and has represented the industry in front of the Federal Communications Commission and Congress.
Mr. Glist is credited with being the point person on the Plug & Play Agreement of 2002, which set the standards for TV sets that could deliver cable TV.
Mr. Glist may not sound like a high-powered attorney-in normal conversation he has an even delivery that one might call gentle. But Mr. Brenner insists that’s just his way.
“Paul speaks very carefully,” said Daniel Brenner, senior VP for law and regulatory policy for the NCTA, who attended Stanford Law School with Mr. Glist. “But be assured, when he has a viewpoint, he expresses it strongly.”
“There have been and still are fierce battles,” Mr. Glist said. “Cable companies and networks may be owned today by conglomerates, but it’s still the culture of innovation. We’re still taking on the AT&Ts and Verizons.”
Mr. Glist has lectured and published on such topics as franchising, video competition, rate regulation, signal carriage and digital rights management. He is nationally known as an expert on pole management and right-of-way matters. Since 1984 he has taught an annual course on cable television and communications law at the Practicing Law Institute in New York.
His voice becomes more animated when discussing his community involvement, which is as much a passion as his work for the cable industry. Mr. Glist is on the board of advisors for the Tahirih Justice Center in Falls Church, Va., which focuses on matters specific to immigrant women and girls. The center was formed by a law student after she took on the immigration appeal of a woman from the African nation of Togo who was seeking asylum in the U.S. because she would be forced to undergo genital mutilation if she returned to her native land.
“The center has brought attention to crimes against women that were previously not recognized or not seen as rights violations,” Mr. Glist said. “To the extent that they seek my expertise, I am proud to be involved.”
He also devotes much of his time to interfaith issues and working against hate crimes. Mr. Glist is co-president of the Interfaith Association in Alexandria, Va., where he lives with his wife and two children, and a member of the Interfaith Conference of Metropolitan Washington.
“Having a rich volunteer life is as important to me as having a challenging professional one,” he said. “For example, I’ve been involved with creating a climate in Alexandria for affordable housing for all walks of life, and that’s been rewarding.” Mr. Glist said breaking down racial prejudice is one of his key personal goals.
“Paul is a tremendous in-the-trenches advocate for our industry,” said Michael Willner, president and CEO of Insight Communications. “He’s a tremendous advocate for whatever he believes. And he’s a good guy too.”