Ballard Spahr’s Media and Entertainment Law practice has been honored with American Lawyer’s Tony Mauro Media Lawyer Award, which recognizes excellence in advocacy for freedom of the press.

The award was established last year in honor of Tony Mauro, a venerated legal reporter who covered the U.S. Supreme Court for American Lawyer Media for 40 years. Ballard Spahr is the first firm to receive the award.

Ballard Spahr media lawyers are working on some of this year’s highest-profile litigation in the media industry. They are defending CBS in a $400 million defamation action brought by Virginia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax over its broadcast of interviews with two women who have accused Mr. Fairfax of sexually assaulting them. The group also is representing The New York Times and its former editorial page editor in a defamation lawsuit brought by former Alaska governor Sarah Palin. Finally, they advised Simon & Schuster—publisher of The Room Where It Happened by former National Security Advisor John Bolton—through legal challenges brought by the U.S. Department of Justice seeking to stop the book’s publication.

As part of the firm’s Racial Justice and Equality Initiative, the Media and Entertainment Law group has committed to providing pro bono representation to media outlets and content creators focused on and serving communities of color throughout the country. In just a few months, the group has engaged four new clients that it will support with newsroom advice, defamation defense, contract review, and other assistance.

Since its merger with First Amendment boutique Levine Koch Sullivan & Schulz in 2017, Ballard Spahr’s Media and Entertainment Law Group has been recognized as the preeminent media law practice in the country. The group grew again when the firm merged with Leopold, Petrich & Smith, a Los Angeles boutique known for its work in script-vetting and rights clearance, two years later. Ballard Spahr was named Law Firm of the Year for Litigation – First Amendment in the 2020 Best Law Firms report.