Jay Ward Brown has been representing news and entertainment companies for three decades. He has litigated defamation, privacy, copyright, subpoena, and access matters in the U.S. Supreme Court, federal and state appellate courts, and trial courts around the country. Jay also regularly serves as clearance counsel for producers of documentary films and TV series—including Oscar-, Emmy-, and Dupont-Columbia Award-winning productions—and provides legal vetting of stories for newspaper and magazine publishers.
Jay has been described in Chambers USA as “a lawyer who delivers continuously high-quality service,” possesses “impeccable analysis and impressive writing skills,” and has a “friendly, approachable and attentive demeanor [that] sees clients wanting to use him exclusively.”
- Successfully defended The New York Times in an action brought by a prominent cancer researcher who headed a department at a major university and who claimed that a news report about alleged problems with research papers he authored or co-authored defamed him. The district court granted The Times’s motion to dismiss the Complaint and the Sixth Circuit affirmed. Jay argued for The Times in both courts.
- With a team of Ballard colleagues, obtained an order denying the City of Chicago’s emergency application to prevent Chicago television station WBBM/CBS2 from broadcasting on the evening news a report about allegations of police misconduct at issue in civil lawsuits against the city that included police bodycam footage of one incident that had not previously been made public. The Mayor of Chicago later apologized for the City’s attempt to suppress the news reporting at issue.
- Successfully defended Netflix, Apple, and Amazon in a copyright infringement action brought by the owners of rights to a song—portions of which were included in a documentary film about a performer who used the song in one of her live burlesque performances. After the district court dismissed the complaint on the basis of fair use, the Second Circuit unanimously affirmed.
Trial Law Institute, Member
Diversity Law Institute, Member
Media Law Resource Center, Defense Counsel Section, past President
Recognition & Accomplishments
The Legal 500, Media and Entertainment: Litigation, 2020-2023
The Best Lawyers in America, Media Law (Washington, DC), 2013-2024, First Amendment Litigation (Washington, DC), 2022-2024, First Amendment Law (Washington, DC) 2023, 2024; "Lawyer of the Year," Media Law (Washington, DC), 2014
Chambers USA, ranked nationwide for media & entertainment law and First Amendment litigation, and in Washington, D.C., for media & entertainment law
Co-author, Newsgathering and the Law, Lexis Law Publishing, 6th ed., 2023
“The Report’s Privilege in the Third Circuit,” The Reporter’s Privilege Compendium, 2023
Co-author, "Nevada Court Grants Anti-SLAPP Motion by the Associated Press on Fair Report Grounds," MLRC MediaLawLetter, August 2018
New York University School of Law (J.D. 1992, cum laude)
Fellow, Arthur Garfield Hays Civil Liberties Program
Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism (M.S. 1985, with honors)University of Minnesota at Minneapolis (B.A. 1984)
Phi Beta Kappa
District of Columbia
U.S. Supreme Court
U.S. Courts of Appeals for the Second, Third, Fourth, Sixth, Eighth, Ninth, and District of Columbia Circuits
U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia
U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland
U.S. District Courts for the Eastern, Northern, and Southern Districts of New YorkU.S. District Courts for the Eastern and Western Districts of Virginia