Matthew E. Kelley advises and represents media companies, journalists, filmmakers, bloggers, and other content creators in a wide range of legal issues. His experience in state and federal courts across the country includes defending clients against defamation, privacy, and copyright claims; litigating Freedom of Information Act and other access matters; challenging subpoenas for privileged information; and other issues implicating First Amendment rights. Matt also counsels clients on legal issues involving newsgathering and intellectual property.
Before beginning his legal career, Matt was an award-winning investigative reporter for the Associated Press and USA Today. As a journalist, he covered a variety of issues and institutions, including Congress, the Pentagon, and national politics.
Matt previously was with the highly regarded First Amendment boutique law firm Levine Sullivan Koch & Schulz, which merged with Ballard Spahr in October 2017.
Matt worked on legal teams that:
- Won release under the Freedom of Information Act of an internal Indian Health Service report detailing the bureaucratic misconduct that allowed an IHS doctor to sexually abuse children over a period of decades. IHS had refused to release the report to the Wall Street Journal, whose investigative reporting about the doctor helped prompt the agency to commission the report. Matt argued for the Journal and The New York Times at the Second Circuit, which unanimously affirmed the newspapers’ district court victory a week later.
- Successfully defended CBS in a lawsuit brought by the then-Lieutenant Governor of Virginia who claimed he was defamed by broadcasts of interviews with two women who accused him of sexual assault. The Fourth Circuit affirmed the district court’s dismissal of the case.
- Successfully defended the Wall Street Journal and The New York Times in a defamation action filed by a Russian-born security researcher whose encounter with former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn was the subject of news articles in several national news outlets. The district court granted the news organizations’ motion to dismiss, and the Fourth Circuit affirmed.
ABA Forum on Communications Law
Native American Journalists Association
UNITY: Journalists of Color, past Secretary
Recognition & Accomplishments
Chambers USA, Media and Entertainment (District of Columbia) "Associate to Watch," 2022, 2023
Legal 500, Media and Entertainment Law: Litigation, 2023
The Best Lawyers in America "Ones to Watch," - Intellectual Property Law (Washington, D.C.), 2024
Co-author, "D.C. Federal Court Vindicates Key Arguments for Quashing Subpoenas to the Media in Associated Press Case," MLRC MediaLawLetter, December 2021
Co-author, "Recent Developments in Media, Privacy, Defamation, and Advertising Law," ABA Tort Trial & Insurance Practice Law Journal, Spring 2019
"Results Removed: Fighting Deindexing Abuse," The Current: The Journal of PLI Press, Summer 2017
George Washington University Law School (J.D. 2012, with high honors)
Articles Editor, The George Washington Law Review
Order of the Coif
Kent State University (B.A. Journalism 1991, summa cum laude)
Editor, Daily Kent Stater
District of Columbia