Podcast 70: TADSummit Innovators, Jonathan Marashlian

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Johnny and Jonathan go way back to the wild west days of the prepaid calling card industry. Jonathan, the Managing Partner of Marashlian & Donahue, PLLC, The CommLaw Group‘ and the founder of The Commpliance Group, honed his skills during his apprenticeship in the calling card industry. This background has provided Jonathan with a vast reservoir of experience relevant to current situations in telecoms. In this episode, Johnny and Jonathan reminisce about some of the prepaid calling card legends and their stories.

Johnny is a big fan of Jonathan’s work in telecom law. He believes that, after one’s life partner, the second most important person in your life is your attorney. Johnny’s experiences have given him firsthand knowledge on how bad lawyers can be, as evidenced by his shocking review of Tyntec experiences with US lawyers.

Johnathan’s extensive experiences mean has enabled him to cultivate a diverse client base. He aims to be a trusted advisor, understanding that every decision has immediate and long-term risks for a business. Jonathan is an advocate for the vital role smaller law firms play outside of ‘Big Law’ and emphasizes the importance of sharing knowledge to assist innovators, who are often smaller companies.

In the telecom industry, compliance is critical, as seen with the numerous TCPA (Telephone Consumer Protection Act) lawsuits and the necessity of avoiding regulatory investigations. This is where The Commpliance Group steps in, offering businesses an outsourced compliance function through a simple subscription model. Johnny and Jonathan also review other aspects of Jonathan’s practice, such as due diligence in mergers and acquisitions (M&A).

They discuss the TCPA lawsuit against Twilio and its potential impact. While Jonathan, like a good lawyer, avoids definitive statements, he notes that it’s currently unclear whether Section 230 will protect Twilio. However, potential revisions to that section could change the landscape significantly.

The conversation also touches on the trend towards the dominance of a few global companies in telecoms. Johnny points out that some companies, like Unifonic and Deutsche Telekom Global Carrier, are winning locally.

An interesting discussion emerges around robo-calling, spam SMS, and the growth of AI in targeting. Jonathan highlights that any progress is good, but it will take time for effective laws to be enacted. Johnny pushes for solutions based on identity, like TNID, illustrating a contrast between the pragmatist and the idealist. Both agree on the need to act quickly to protect people, as technology must keep pace with bad actors, and platforms need to be held accountable for profiting from these bad actors. This is especially important since legal and regulatory measures often take years to catch up.

Johnny also asks Jonathan about his thoughts on Eric Troutman and Puja Amin. Diplomatic as always, Jonathan focuses on where he aligns with their values, noting that they are not part of Big Law and are committed to education, which benefits the entire ecosystem, particularly smaller companies.

This podcast episode is a lengthy one, filled with a few disagreements. Nonetheless, Johnny’s respect for Jonathan shines through, making for a compelling and insightful discussion.

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