The attorneys in our Media and Entertainment Law Group have played a leading role in many of the most significant First Amendment cases in recent years. We help clients across platforms and industries navigate some of the law's most challenging issues—during the editing process and in court.

The 2017 merger between Ballard Spahr and Levine Sullivan Koch & Schulz (LSKS)—the preeminent First Amendment litigation and media law boutique in the United States—established a powerhouse practice that represents the biggest and most prominent names in the industry. Two years later, the team expanded again with the addition of a prominent group of entertainment lawyers from the Leopold Petrich & Smith firm to its office in Los Angeles.

Ballard Spahr has been named national Law Firm of the Year for both Media Law and Copyright Law in the U.S. News & World Report-Best Lawyers rankings for 2019 in recognition of outstanding performance in these areas. These honors are a testament to the skill and commitment of our lawyers.

Our clients range from local freelance journalists to international news organizations, and our experience includes both traditional and new media. We advise broadcasters, internet companies, interactive media, newspapers, journalists, entertainment and advertising firms, sports teams, authors, filmmakers, public interest organizations, and others.

  • Defamation, privacy, and related First Amendment litigation
  • Prosecuting actions to secure open government, including state and federal access cases
  • Contesting civil, criminal, and grand jury subpoenas of authors, reporters, editors, and their work product, including protection of anonymous speech
  • Advertising law and commercial speech
  • Counseling to reduce risks of libel, privacy, and related claims
  • Prosecuting and defending copyright and trademark claims
  • Misappropriation of name and likeness
  • Television rights issues
  • Copyright infringement
  • Fraud
  • Breach of contract
  • Trade secrets
  • Unfair competition
  • Antitrust
  • Non-compete provisions
  • Securities litigation
  • Reorganization and restructuring
  • Officer/director liability

Our attorneys lead the fight for government transparency. We help media clients secure access to public records, court documents, and proceedings—under public records statutes as well as the First Amendment. We also represent content providers in responding to civil and criminal subpoenas, including grand jury subpoenas that seek information related to newsgathering, anonymous sources, and anonymous online speech.

Our attorneys are at the forefront of advising clients about legal issues surrounding the latest technology for gathering and publishing news and information. We counsel media companies on regulatory issues and work closely with our colleagues in Ballard Spahr's nationally recognized Intellectual Property Department to protect the rights of our clients regarding digital media, copyright, licensing, and trademark issues.

The firm's practice depth, coupled with our awareness of clients' businesses and goals, allows us to provide counsel across a wide range of legal areas. And with lawyers across the country, we can respond promptly to complex legal demands and assist clients with media and entertainment law matters wherever they might occur.

Our litigators have represented the media in many of the nation's most significant First Amendment cases. Our experience includes:

  • Helping the Associated Press obtain the release of sealed documents in the Bill Cosby sexual assault cases;
  • Successfully defending NBCUniversal in a defamation suit brought by George Zimmerman, the man acquitted in the fatal shooting of Trayvon Martin;
  • Reversing a jury verdict against the estate of Navy SEAL Chris Kyle in a case brought by Jesse Ventura following the publication of Kyle's best-selling book American Sniper: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in U.S. Military History;
  • Winning release for the Memphis Commercial Appeal of the FBI's files on the civil rights photographer who was paid to spy on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.; and
  • Representing a coalition of two dozen media companies—including the New York TimesThe Washington Post, ABC News, NBCUniversal, TEGNA, Sinclair Broadcasting, and Scripps Media—before the FAA and Congress in the development of drone journalism laws and policies.


David J. Bodney
Practice Leader
Tel 602.798.5454

Charles D. Tobin
Practice Leader
Tel 202.661.2218