Law firm that represents big media clients in 1st amendment cases merges with Ballard Spahr

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Ballard Spahr and Levine Sullivan Koch & Schulz, a well-known  First Amendment and media law boutique  — announced a merger, effective October 1.

The firm,  which will retain the name Ballard Spahr, brings together two media law practices.

All 25 of LSKS’s lawyers, – including its four named partner Lee Levine, Michael D. Sullivan, Elizabeth C. Koch, and David A. Schulz – will join Ballard Spahr in its Washington, D.C., New York, Philadelphia, and Denver offices.

Ballard Spahr operates an office in Wilmington

Its lawyers, including  Levine – who has been described in Chambers USA as “the greatest First Amendment attorney in the United States” – have argued landmark cases before the U.S. Supreme Court and in state and federal courts across the country. 

“We have made one outstanding addition after another to our Media and Entertainment Law Group –  including Practice Leaders David Bodney and Chuck Tobin, who are recognized as among the very best in the business, ” said Ballard Spahr Chair Mark Stewart. “With the arrival of LSKS, we will have one of the largest practices of its kind in the country. The LSKS lawyers are terrific people whose dedication to this critically important work mirrors ours. It is an exciting development for both firms.” 

Media attorneys at Ballard Spahr and LSKS represent and counsel clients across platforms and industry sectors—news, entertainment, sports, publishing, advertising, and advocacy.

The attorneys defend media clients in defamation, privacy, and First Amendment litigation; prosecute actions to secure open government and public access; defend journalists against civil, criminal, and grand jury subpoenas; advise reporters in their news gathering; provide pre-publication and pre-broadcast counseling to a wide array of media; and help clients protect their intellectual property rights. 

LSKS has been at the vanguard in representing the media in many of the most significant and consequential First Amendment cases in recent years.

Last month, the firm achieved dismissal in federal court of a defamation suit brought against The New York Times by former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin.

LSKS also helped the Associated Press obtain the release of sealed documents in the Bill Cosby sexual assault cases; successfully defended NBCUniversal in a defamation suit brought by George Zimmerman, the man acquitted in the fatal shooting of Trayvon Martin; and succeeded in reversing a jury verdict against the estate of famed 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

The affiliation also comes at a time of increased tensions between the media and Trump Administration. Such tensions have been a part of any presidency. However, there have been fears that the administration’s  actions could undermine the key amendment to the Constitution.

Another growing area is online media and the issues raised by social media, blogging and other forms of expression. There is also the controversial issue of  “fake news” and allegations of Russian interference through media sites that spread false or inflammatory posts.

The LSKS merger is the second to be announced by Ballard Spahr. Last week, Ballard Spahr announced that it will join with Lindquist & Vennum—a Minneapolis-based law firm known as a leader in middle-market M&A and private equity deal-making—effective January 1, 2018.

Ballard Spahr LLP has  more than 500 lawyers in 13 offices in the United States. For more information, please visit www.ballardspahr.com.

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