Howard Trienens, a lawyer who guided the breakup of telecommunications colossus AT&T Corp. in the course of the Eighties, excelled at distilling advanced issues into options his shoppers might assist.
AT&T was below strain from the federal authorities, its prospects and rivals to loosen its decadeslong grip over U.S. phone service when the corporate’s chief govt, Charles Brown, requested Mr. Trienens to change into the corporate’s basic counsel in 1980. Mr. Brown had labored with Mr. Trienens and his Chicago-based regulation agency Sidley Austin LLP a decade earlier when Mr. Brown ran AT&T’s Illinois Bell Phone Co. subsidiary.
Sidley specialised in representing companies in regulated industries, reminiscent of railroading and electrical utilities. Satisfying the federal government’s calls for to finish AT&T’s permitted monopoly over service was significantly troublesome, Mr. Trienens’ colleagues stated. The corporate had argued for years that dismantling the community would jeopardize the standard of native cellphone service that AT&T supported with income from its long-distance cellphone enterprise. However battling the federal government’s antitrust case in opposition to AT&T would probably take years of federal courtroom litigation with an unsure consequence.
Mr. Trienens, who died July 26 at 97 years outdated, ultimately advocated for the voluntary separation of AT&T’s regional phone firms. Divesting these extremely regulated suppliers of native cellphone service, recognized collectively because the Child Bells, would go away AT&T with its long-distance calling service, its equipment-manufacturing enterprise and the liberty to pursue new companies in computer systems and cable tv.
By 1984, AT&T had reached a consent decree with the federal authorities that created seven new regional cellphone firms hived out of the Child Bells. The deal set the stage for the creation of the present telecommunications business, Mr. Trienens’ colleagues stated. One of many regional operators, SBC Communications Inc., later purchased its former guardian and took its title, creating the trendy AT&T Inc.