David Schultz
David Schultz

David A. Schulz

Senior Counsel

schulzd@ballardspahr.com
Tel 212.850.6103
Fax 212.223.1942
New York

David A. Schulz has defended the rights of journalists and news organizations for more than 35 years, litigating libel, privacy, access, and newsgathering claims in 20 states.

His regular clients include international news organizations, national and local newspapers, broadcast and cable television networks, station owners, magazine and book publishers, and internet content providers of all types.

More recently, Mr. Schulz has litigated issues concerning government secrecy in many contexts. He was tapped to provide advice on the WikiLeaks and Edward Snowden disclosures, has pursued reporters’ access rights at Guantanamo Bay, and has represented a number of journalists in federal leak investigations.

Mr. Schulz is a Clinical Lecturer at Yale Law School and serves as Co-Director of the Media Freedom and Information Access (MFIA) Clinic at Yale. The clinic supports robust investigative journalism and government transparency by providing pro bono representation to journalists and nonprofit organizations on access to government information, newsgathering, digital privacy, and free speech. Mr. Schulz has supervised MFIA Clinic students since the clinic was established in 2009.

Mr. Schulz has been described by Best Lawyers as “the top access litigator in the country,” a view echoed by clients in Chambers USA, which has reported that “there is no one better in the country on freedom of information and access to the courts.” Chambers USA has described Mr. Schulz as a “walking encyclopedia” of media law who has played a key role in “a number of important battles” and has been “instrumental in ensuring” that protections for reporters’ confidential sources are “watertight.” The Legal 500 likewise has noted that Mr. Schulz is “widely praised as a recognized expert on freedom of information and access to the courts.”

Mr. Schulz practiced at the highly regarded First Amendment boutique law firm Levine Sullivan Koch & Schulz, which merged with Ballard Spahr in October 2017.

Representative Experience

  • Successfully defended The New York Times in federal trial court, which dismissed a case brought by Sarah Palin over an editorial published following a June 2017 shooting that left a member of Congress injured. The editorial included a sentence that Palin alleged suggested a link between another shooting six years earlier and political rhetoric at the time from Palin’s political action committee. Palin filed suit claiming she had been defamed, and The Times moved to dismiss the case. Following briefing and an evidentiary hearing, the court dismissed Palin’s suit, holding that she could not plausibly claim that The Times had published with the required “actual malice.”
  • Successfully defended The New Yorker and its reporter David Grann in a defamation lawsuit arising out of a profile of Canadian art authenticator Paul Biro. Affirming the trial court’s dismissal of the case, the Second Circuit held that Biro, a public figure in the world of art authentication, had failed to allege facts in his complaint that could plausibly demonstrate the defendants acted with actual malice.
  • When four reporters were expelled from the Military Commissions at Guantanamo, Mr. Schulz convinced the Pentagon that the expulsions violated the reporters’ First Amendment right to attend criminal trials. He then represented a broad coalition of national news organizations to challenge the media ground rules under which the reporters had been expelled. Mr. Schulz continues to fight for public access to all criminal prosecutions at Guantanamo, and, in 2012, he became the first non-party attorney permitted to appear before the commission at Guantanamo when he opposed a government motion to close pretrial proceedings and argued in support of the public’s right to access those proceedings.
  • Successfully defended hedge-fund manager Steven Eisman, both at the trial court level and on appeal, in a defamation case arising out of Michael Lewis’s best-selling book on the origins of the 2008 financial crisis, The Big Short, for which Mr. Eisman was a source. The plaintiff claimed he was defamed by a chapter in the book that depicted a conversation between himself and Mr. Eisman. The Second Circuit affirmed the district court’s prior grant of summary judgment, holding that the statements concerning the plaintiff were either constitutionally protected opinion or substantially true.
  • On behalf of Dow Jones, The New York Times, the New York Daily News, the New York Post, and cable news network NY1, Mr. Schulz defeated a suit by the teachers’ union seeking to block the board of education from disclosing reports on teachers’ job performance. An appeals court affirmed the trial court’s conclusion that New York’s Freedom of Information Law required the reports to be made available to the public, finding any potential privacy interest of the teachers to be outweighed by a compelling interest in public disclosure.
  • Successfully defended an Oklahoma City television station and its reporter against claims for invasion of privacy brought by a rape victim after the station aired brief video images of the rape in connection with a story on the arrest of a suspect.

Professional Activities

Yale Law School, Media Freedom and Information Access Clinic, Co-Director; Clinical Lecturer in Law; Senior Research Scholar

New York Committee on Open Government

International Bar Association, Media Law Committee, past Chair

Association of the Bar of the City of New York, IP Council, past Chair; past Executive Committee; Communications and Media Law Committee, past Chair

ABA Forum on Communications Law, past Governing Board member

Media Law Resource Center, Defense Counsel Section, past President

Practising Law Institute, Newsgathering and Libel Litigation Biennial Conference, past Co-Chair

Sedona Conference Working Group on Protective Orders, Confidentiality & Public Access, 2007

Recognition & Accomplishments

Chambers USA: America’s Leading Lawyers for Business, First Amendment litigation, nationwide; media & entertainment: First Amendment litigation, New York

The Best Lawyers in America New York Media Law Lawyer of the Year, 2014; top First Amendment, First Amendment litigation, and media lawyer, 2000-2018

New York Metro Super Lawyers, constitutional law, 2006-2017

Publications

“Guantanamo Trials Should Be Open,” New York Times, April 18, 2012

“Policing Privacy: How U.S. Law Navigates the Boundary Between Free Speech and Private Facts,” Media Law Resource Center Bulletin, September 2007

“Internet Jurisdiction, Choice of Law Issues, ISP Immunity and Anonymous On-Line Speech,” 2 Internet Law & Business 997, October 2001

“Newsgathering as a Protected Activity,” Freedom of Information and Freedom of Expression: Essays in Honour of Sir David William, Oxford University Press, 2000


Yale Law School (J.D. 1978)

Yale University (M.A. Economics 1976)

Knox College (B.A. 1974, magna cum laude)

New York

District of Columbia

U.S. Supreme Court

U.S. Courts of Appeals for the Second, Third, Fourth, Ninth, and 10th Circuits

U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit

U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia

U.S. District Courts for the Southern, Eastern, Western, and Northern Districts of New York