Michael Berry

Partner
Philadelphia

For nearly 20 years, Michael Berry has represented news, entertainment, and other media clients in defamation and privacy suits, fought for the right of the press and public to access government and court records, defended reporters who are subpoenaed, and advised clients on newsgathering and other First Amendment matters. He is a trial lawyer who regularly defends media companies in federal and state courts throughout the country. For example, in recent years, Michael served as trial counsel for prominent newspapers and websites, defeated an effort to subpoena reporters’ sources as part of an inquiry into alleged grand jury leaks, and succeeded in unsealing records in high-profile criminal prosecutions and high-stakes corporate litigation.

In light of his accomplishments, The Best Lawyers in America named Michael its First Amendment Law Lawyer of the Year in Philadelphia for 2018 and 2020, as well as Media Lawyer of the Year in Philadelphia for 2019. Most recently, The Legal Intelligencer named him as a 2020 "Power Player," which recognizes attorneys who through their advocacy made a significant impact on public policy, legislation, or jurisprudence in Pennsylvania.

Experience 

Representative Matters

  • Successfully represented The Associated Press in unsealing numerous records in the criminal cases against the former Penn State administrators prosecuted in the wake of the Sandusky scandal in Commonwealth v. Curley, 189 A.3d 467 (Pa. Super. 2018)
  • Successfully represented Dow Jones & Company, Inc. in obtaining access to records that had been filed under seal in an investor lawsuit against the controversial blood-testing company, Theranos, Inc. in Partner Investments, L.P. v. Theranos, Inc., 2017 WL 2303954 (Del. Ch. 2017)
  • Successfully defended CBS's Philadelphia television station against a lawsuit brought by a New Jersey church and pastor who claimed they were defamed by a news report describing the arrest of one of the church's preachers on child molestation charges, prevailing on summary judgment and the the plaintiff's subsequent appeal in Gordon v. CBS Broadcasting Inc.

Professional Highlights

Judicial Clerkships

Hon. David B. Sentelle, U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit

Professional Activities

Media Law Resource Center Institute, Board of Directors

Media Law Resource Center, past Co-Chair, MediaLawLetter Committee

Pennsylvania Freedom of Information Coalition, Founding Member, Board of Directors

Pennsylvania Bar Association, past Co-Chair, Bar-Press Committee

Recognition & Accomplishments

The Best Lawyers in America, First Amendment law, First Amendment litigation, media law, 2014-2021; "Lawyer of the Year," First Amendment Law (Philadelphia), 2018, 2020, and Media Law (Philadelphia), 2019

Named as a "Power Player" by The Legal Intelligencer in its 2020 Pennsylvania Legal Awards

Named as a Lawyer on the Fast Track by The Legal Intelligencer and Pennsylvania Law Weekly in their 40 Under 40 rankings, 2009

Speaking Engagements

Invited testifier, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania House of Representatives, Judiciary Committee Public Hearing, Pennsylvania Anti-SLAPP Law

Moderator, "Trial Tales: Lessons Learned from Recent High-Profile Defamation Trials," Media Law Resource Center Media Law Conference, October 1, 2020

Speaker, "The Public's Right to Access Court Records and Court Proceedings," Retreat of the Judges of the First Judicial District of Pennsylvania, September 13, 2019

Publications

"Pa.’s new press freedom lawyer will shine more sunlight on government," The Philadelphia Inquirer, January 21, 2020

Lead author, Pennsylvania Chapter, Reporters Privilege Compendium (Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press)

Lead author, Pennsylvania Chapter, Open Courts Compendium (Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press)

Credentials 

Education

University of North Carolina School of Law (J.D. 2000, with highest honors)
Editor-in-Chief, North Carolina Law Review

Duke University (M.P.P. 2000)

Emory University (B.A. 1994)
Phi Beta Kappa

Admissions

Pennsylvania

New Jersey

New York

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

U.S. District Courts for the Eastern and Middle Districts of Pennsylvania

U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey

U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York