RICK BOUCHER, former U.S. Congressman and practice area team leader of Sidley Austin’s Government Strategies group, focuses his practice on counseling clients whose business needs require the development of public policy strategies in the telecommunications, energy and the environment, and financial services industries.
Rick has extensive experience representing clients in Congressional investigations, counseling them on the expectations of the investigating committee, preparing written materials responsive to investigative requests, preparing witnesses for investigative hearings and interacting with the committee on the client’s behalf throughout the investigative process. He gained a valuable perspective on these matters from his 28 years of service as a member of Congress and previously as a member of the Virginia State Senate.
During his Congressional tenure Rick served on both the House Energy and Commerce Committee and the Judiciary Committee, chairing the subcommittees on Energy and Air Quality; and Communications, Technology and the Internet. He carved out a role as a trusted bipartisan leader on critical issues. Rick was a leading participant in every major Congressional telecommunications policy debate over the past 25 years.
He chaired the subcommittee that oversaw the commercialization of the Internet and its transition from a government-owned R&D project to the global platform we know today. In that role he authored the 1992 law that permitted the first commercial use of the Internet.
He was one of two co-founders of the Congressional Internet Caucus, and served as co-chairman of the 170 member group for 15 years. Rick helped to fashion the Telecommunications Act of 1996, was instrumental in drafting the initial legislation providing privacy rights for Internet users, and has been a longstanding proponent of fair use opportunities for digital media purchasers. Rick has been recognized since 2013 in The Best Lawyers in America for his work in Communications Law and is broadly recognized as one of the leading congressional authorities on privacy, telecommunications and technology
In the areas of energy and the environment, Rick was an architect of the Clean Air Amendments of 1990 and was a major participant in the formulation of greenhouse gas control legislation, having worked extensively with business leaders to achieve a legislative balance that garnered the support of the largest investor owned utilities business community. In that effort, he organized and chaired 28 days of hearings on global climate change and drafted cap and trade legislation for greenhouse gas control which became the foundation for the legislation that passed the House in 2009.
In addition to his energy and telecommunications-related work, Rick drafted and introduced the Bipartisan Free Flow of Information Act, and was the lead Democratic co-sponsor of both the Comprehensive Bankruptcy Reform and Class-Action Reform measures, signed into law by President George W. Bush.
Rick served in the Virginia Senate for seven years and before entering public service was in the private practice of law for 12 years in New York and Virginia.
At Sidley, Rick has provided strategic advice to:
- A synthetic biology company which developed a self-limiting genetically engineered mosquito which has the ability to dramatically suppress mosquito populations. Rick advised the company on ways to elevate the company’s profile among policymakers in Congress and in the administration with the goal of having federal funds dedicated to mosquito suppression efforts as a core aspect of the federal government’s Zika virus response.
- A major national retail store chain in a data breach investigation conducted by the House Energy and Commerce Committee and the Senate Judiciary Committee. Sidley’s representation included preparation of the company’s witness for hearings before both committees.
- One of the world's largest automotive parts companies through a congressional investigation conducted by both the House Energy and Commerce Committee and the Senate Commerce Committee.
- A national association of electricity companies on the policy aspects of smart meter deployment and the effect of distributed generation on the operation and financing of electricity distribution systems.
- A large technology company that designs, develops, integrates, tests, commercializes, and markets Internet services. Rick’s advice focuses on the transition of all communications to the Internet protocol, and the sunset of the public switched telephone network and the need to maintain the lightly regulated status of broadband to facilitate both technology innovation and private sector investment.
- A leading global information and communications technology (ICT) solutions provider on steps it should take to satisfy federal government policymakers regarding cybersecurity risks.
- A primary trade association for the recycling industry on legislative and regulatory issues related to the recycling, domestically and internationally, of a range of materials, including plastics and recycling.
- A global leader in the paper and packing industry in administrative proceedings before EPA regarding EPA’s decision on a superfund site.
- A global provider of Internet infrastructure services regarding the company’s interactions with ICANN and the ongoing international debate regarding Internet governance.
- A major media company in connection with privacy litigation, congressional and administrative inquiries, and state investigations regarding issues involving online advertising and Internet practices.
- “Rick Boucher and Larry Irving: Broadband growth means staying the course,” San Jose Mercury News (February 5, 2016).
- Interviewed by The Los Angeles Times for the central role that former Congressman Boucher is playing in bringing the parties together on bipartisan legislation that would supersede the FCC's reclassification of broadband as a public utility applying common carrier rules to the Internet in “Potential for bipartisan bill on net neutrality emerges in Congress,” (March 25, 2015).
- “Why Download Europe's Lousy Broadband Policy?” The Wall Street Journal (February 2015).
- “Restoring Virginians' trust in government,” The Washington Post (October 2014).
- “Conversion to broadband will aid Delray consumers,”" Sun Sentinel (March 2014).
- “The future of telecommunications,” The Hill (February 2014).
- “Wheeler Puts Digital Networks on Fast Track,” Roll Call (February 2014).
- “Limiting Progress of Science and Useful Arts: Legislating As a Means of Enhancing Market Leverage,” 18 Stanford Law and Policy Review 7 (2007).
- “Blanket Music Licensing and Local Television: An Historical Accident in Need of Reform,” 44 Washington and Lee Law Review 1157 (1987).
- “Closing the RICO Floodgates in the Aftermath of Sedima,” 31 New York Law School Law Review 133 (1986).
- Co-chair of the Governor of Virginia’s Commission on Ethics and Integrity in State Government