Media & First Amendment

We take pride not only in protecting the fundamental freedoms afforded by the First Amendment, but also in applying that powerful protection to the practical benefit of newspapers, web-based content providers, broadcasters, and companies sued on any claim of defamation. Our litigators can counsel you on a wide variety of First Amendment issues, including gaining access to public records, fair reporting privileges, and defending against allegations of slander, libel or business disparagement. We can also serve as a responsive and realistic sounding board, providing pre-publication review of communications, advertisements, postings, or news stories as well as advice on newsgathering and privacy issues.

Of course, in this age of burgeoning social media, Twitter, Instagram, and other online outlets, it is not just traditional media entities that rely on our experience. As speech and communications migrate online, free speech issues are increasingly arising. We advise corporations and businesses on a myriad of issues involving commercial speech, Internet law, advertising, copyright, and the fair-use doctrine.

Our practice spans our offices across the country and in the UK, with experience in every core area of First Amendment protection, including religious expression, assembly, and petition, as well as protecting our clients’ fundamental constitutional rights under numerous state and federal statutes, including statutes designed to protect against lawsuits that seek to chill the fundamental right to petition the governmental entities to take action with regard to various issues (e.g., so-called anti-SLAPP statutes).

Quick Facts

  • Experienced trial attorneys with notable successes, including before the US Supreme Court and in courts across the United States
  • Recent victory recognized by former Chief Justice Margaret Marshall of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court as one of her “notable decisions” under the category of free speech
  • Select clients have included Boston Herald, AstraZeneca, and the David Project
  • Drafted the Superior Court’s model jury instructions on defamation and invasion of privacy
  • Trial success in cases of alleged copyright or trademark infringement
  • Deep experience in the communications sector, assisted by attorneys in our Communications Practice

Areas of Focus

  • Defamation and free speech
  • Invasion of privacy claims
  • Protection of First Amendment rights (speech, media, religion)
  • Publishing and licensing agreements
  • Trademark and copyright infringement claims
  • Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests, state public records law requests, and pursuing access to state and federal records

Rankings & Recognitions

  • Attorneys ranked by Chambers USA, Best Lawyers, rated AV by Martindale-Hubbell, and recognized as Super Lawyers
  • Trial and appellate success recognized by Benchmark Litigation

Representative Experience

  • Obtained over a million-dollar verdict on behalf of AstraZeneca against its former CEO for fraud, conversion, and breach of fiduciary duty. While defeating the CEO’s claims for defamation, we obtained a favorable appellate decision before the Supreme Judicial Court, which has now resulted in an $18 million judgment in favor of AstraZeneca. This has been recognized by former Chief Justice Margaret Marshall as one of her “notable decisions” under the category of free speech.
  • Successfully represented a group of individuals and nonprofit entities who had been sued by the Islamic Society of Boston for defamation and a “conspiracy to defame” arising from concerns about its leaders. After zealous discovery, the claims were dismissed for no consideration, no retractions, and no apologies.
  • Represented Houghton Mifflin in a defamation and commercial disparagement claim against another book publisher arising out of its statements and conduct in marketing competing schoolbook programs.
  • Successfully represented a National Football League sports team in a suit brought by a disgruntled fan alleging First Amendment right to exhibit certain inflammatory signs at football games.
  • Won a jury trial for defendant in a defamation case in which a company allegedly defamed our client when it disclosed that he had been terminated for sexual harassment.
  • Successfully represented a trade association and its former executive director in a highly publicized defamation suit by a former employee.
  • Advised an association of cable operators of First Amendment freedoms as weighed against the limitations of corporate political contributions and lobbying.

Clients We Serve

  • Newspapers
  • Publishers
  • Television stations
  • Online content and media sites
  • Media entities
  • Public and private companies
  • Trade associations
  • Individuals