2019 – Defending the Subpoenaed Journalist – New York

Legal Work

Subpoena Defense Initiative

Defending the Subpoenaed Journalist is a legal seminar covering essentials of regional shield law protections — or lack thereof — and developments in the law as it relates to journalists and their confidential sources and unpublished materials. Hear from leading media lawyers at Davis Wright Tremaine, in-house counsel from the Associated Press and a journalist who has recently faced subpoenas seeking constitutionally protected materials. 


Monday, Nov. 4, 2019  

12:00 PM – 2:00 PM 

Admission: Free
Lunch provided; CLE pending


Davis Wright Tremaine, 1251 Avenue of the Americas, 21st Floor, New York, New York, 10020-1104

*Click here to register from a mobile device.



The training session is designed for lawyers at all levels interested in representing journalists who face subpoenas for their confidential sources or unpublished materials, a fundamental threat to press freedom. Training will cover: the typical subpoenas that journalists receive in state and federal court proceedings, developments in the law, and strategies for successfully representing journalists.

FAC’s Subpoena Defense Initiative

With the explosion in small and nonprofit media outlets, as well as a steep rise in the number of freelance journalists, there is a significant and growing need for qualified counsel to defend subpoenas served on journalists who lack access to qualified counsel. Many subpoenas can be handled swiftly, with a phone call or an email. Others require more extended negotiations, and some may require a motion to quash and a related court appearance. Thus, they present an ideal opportunity for lawyers to engage in work for the public good on a time- and subject-matter-limited basis. They may also present good opportunities for junior lawyers to get hands-on, courtroom experience.

The SDI program goals are two-fold:

  • To train interested attorneys with detailed, specific knowledge of the procedural and substantive challenges of defending journalists who are subpoenaed in both the criminal and civil contexts.
  • To build a roster of qualified attorneys FAC can call on to defend subpoenaed journalists if and when the need arises.

Press Freedom Defense Fund

The initiative is generously supported by the Press Freedom Defense Fund, a project of First Look Media Works, Inc., publisher of The Intercept. It provides essential legal support for journalists, news organizations and whistleblowers who are targeted by powerful figures because they have tried to being light information that is in the public interest and necessary for a functioning democracy. 


Elizabeth McNamara

Elizabeth McNamara has more than 30 years of litigation and counseling experience in media and intellectual property law, representing publishers (books, magazines, newspapers, and websites), television and radio broadcasters, cable companies, and motion picture producers and distributors. Her litigation practice includes all areas of sophisticated IP, media and entertainment litigation at the trial and appellate level of federal and state courts, in such areas as libel, privacy, copyright, trademark, prior restraint, and reporter’s shield laws. She has represented Associated Press, Bauer Publishing, Cablevision, CBS, CNN, Conde Nast, Financial Times, Hachette Book Group, Macmillan, MTV Networks, NBC, Random House, Sesame Workshop, Showtime, Simon & Schuster, Time Inc., and Wenner Media.

Kate BolgerKate Bolger is an experienced First Amendment and media litigator who has represented news and entertainment companies in a broad spectrum of content-related matters, ranging from investigative journalism to coverage of celebrities. In addition to defending media clients in court, Kate regularly counsels newspapers, magazines, and book publishers about prepublication issues, and advises authors on contract, electronic publishing, and intellectual property matters. Chambers USA reports that clients have described Kate as “incredibly bright, very strategic, and an exceptionally strong writer” who is “a very effective litigator” and “the lawyer I would want the most in a New York state court street fight.” 

Brian Barrett  (AP Photo)Brian Barrett is assistant general counsel to The Associated Press, where he provides counsel to the AP’s global newsroom and oversees the company’s litigation and intellectual property work. Brian advises the newsroom on the breadth of legal issues arising during the editorial process, including newsgathering and publication risk, subpoenas, copyright and related First Amendment matters. He supports AP’s mission “to inform the world” by managing its public records and access work. Prior to joining the AP in 2014, Brian worked at Cahill Gordon & Reindel, where his work included representing media companies and journalists in press-related issues.

David Bralow, Legal Director of the Press Freedom Defense Fund, brings a wealth of experience in media law including First Amendment expertise, national security issues, FOIA prosecutions and appeals, defamation, and privacy. Prior to joining First Look Media, Bralow was of counsel in the Media, Communication and Entertainment Practice Group of Pepper Hamilton LLP. He also served as Senior Vice President and General Counsel at Digital First Media, a multi-platform media company with the second largest newspaper circulation in the United States; and as Assistant General Counsel for 13 years at the Tribune Company, where he provided legal advice to their newspapers, websites and television stations.

Additional speaker details to come.