• New York University School of Law (J.D., cum laude, 1992)
    Fellow, Arthur Garfield Hays Civil Liberties Program
  • Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism (M.S., with honors, 1985)

  • University of Minnesota at Minneapolis (B.A., Phi Beta Kappa, 1984)

Memberships & Affiliations

  • Media Law Resource Center, Defense Counsel Section (Treasurer)

  • Media Law Resource Center Institute (past-Board of Trustees and past-Chair)

  • Law360 (Media and Entertainment Editorial Advisory Board)

  • ABA Tort Trial & Insurance Practice Section, Media, Privacy & Defamation Law Committee (past-Vice Chair)

  • ABA Forum on Communications Law (past-Governing Board)

  • Trinity College, Adjunct Instructor in Law of Mass Communications (1999-2003)

  • University of Maryland School of Journalism, Adjunct Instructor in Media Law (1995-1996)

Honors & Distinctions

  • Recognized by Chambers USA as a leading lawyer in First Amendment Litigation nationwide and in Media & Entertainment in Washington, DC

  • Recognized by The Best Lawyers in America as a top Media lawyer and as the 2014 Washington, DC Media Law Lawyer of the Year

  • Recognized by Washington, DC Super Lawyers in Media & Advertising

  • American Bar Association Silver Gavel Award for Public Service

Selected Publications
  • Newsgathering and the Law (Lexis Law Publishing 4th ed. Supplement 2013 & 2015) (with L. Levine, S. Berlin, and G. Sproul)

  • Mind the Gap: Companies Face Marketing-Related Legal Claims That Their CGL Insurance Policies No Longer Cover, Risk & Insurance (Dec. 2011) (with E. Koch)
  • “The Assange Effect”: WikiLeaks, The Espionage Act and the Fourth Estate, Media Law Resource Center Bulletin (Aug. 2011) (with S. Ward)

  • “The Reporter’s Privilege in the Third Circuit,” in The Reporter’s Privilege Compendium (Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press 2006)
Jay Ward Brown

Jay helped found LSKS in 1997 and currently serves as the firm’s Managing Partner. He has been representing news and entertainment companies for more than two decades and has litigated libel, privacy, copyright, subpoena, and access matters in the U.S. Supreme Court, federal and state appellate courts, and trial courts around the country.

Jay has been described in Chambers USA as “a lawyer who delivers continuously high-quality service,” possesses “impeccable analysis and impressive writing skills,” and has a “friendly, approachable and attentive demeanor [that] sees clients wanting to use him exclusively.”

For a number of years, Jay served as national defamation counsel to the NAACP and was privileged to accept the NAACP’s Civil Rights Champion Award, which was given to LSKS “for outstanding pro bono service and commitment to advancing civil rights and social justice.”

As a public television journalist before law school, Jay produced or wrote many of the late Fred W. Friendly’s award-winning programs on the Constitution, the press, law, and ethics. In 2007, Jay took a three-year leave from private practice to help Hiscox, a Lloyd’s of London insurance syndicate, open its U.S. claims operations. Jay headed the company’s North American media claims unit until he returned to LSKS in 2010.

Notable Matters

Three Amigos SJL Restaurant v. CBS News Inc., 28 N.Y.3d 82 (N.Y. 2016). Jay and his LSKS colleagues defended CBS in a defamation action arising from a news report on its New York television station about a federal raid on an adult entertainment club in New York. The New York Court of Appeals affirmed the dismissal of three of the plaintiffs’ defamation claims against CBS. The court held that the news report was not “of and concerning” the three plaintiffs, allegedly managers of the club, as none were mentioned or otherwise reasonably understood as referred to in the report.

Gilman v. Spitzer, 538 F. App’x 45 (2d Cir. 2013). Jay and his LSKS colleagues defended former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer and in a defamation action filed by a former insurance executive arising out of a piece of commentary by Gov. Spitzer regarding a series of criminal prosecutions he had initiated while attorney general. The district court granted the defendants’ motion for judgment on the pleadings, and dismissal of the action was affirmed on appeal.

Snyder v. Creative Loafing, Inc. (D.C. Super. 2011). With Seth Berlin, Jay successfully defended Washington City Paper in the defamation action filed by Washington Redskins owner Daniel Snyder over a profile titled “The Cranky Redskins Fan’s Guide to Dan Snyder.” After City Paper filed its motion to dismiss invoking the District of Columbia’s then-brand new anti-SLAPP statute, Snyder voluntarily dismissed his lawsuit.

In re Associated Press (4th Cir. 2006), and United States v. Moussaoui, 65 F. App’x 881 (4th Cir. 2003). Jay served as lead counsel for a coalition of national news organizations that successfully moved several times to intervene and to obtain access to the proceedings and record during the first September 11-related criminal prosecution. Among other successes, Jay persuaded the Fourth Circuit to issue a writ of mandamus ordering the trial judge to provide same-day access to trial exhibits.

Finebaum v. Coulter, 854 So.2d 1120 (Ala. 2003). Jay served as lead counsel for Clear Channel Communications and its sports journalist Paul Finebaum in the Alabama Supreme Court in a defamation action brought by another sports broadcaster who claimed that Finebaum had, on air, implied he was homosexual. After Jay first persuaded the Supreme Court to reverse its initial refusal to hear an interlocutory appeal from a trial court order denying summary judgment, the Court reversed on the merits and rendered judgment for Finebaum.

Bartnicki v. Vopper, 532 U.S. 514 (2001). With partner Lee Levine, Jay successfully represented the media defendants in this landmark Supreme Court case arising out of the radio broadcast of a tape recording of a cell phone conversation between two teachers’ union officials. The Supreme Court upheld the dismissal of the plaintiffs’ claims under the federal wiretap act and reaffirmed the principle that the press cannot be held liable for publishing truthful information about a matter of public concern absent a governmental interest of the highest order, at least where it played no role in the source’s unlawful acquisition of the information.

  • Jay Ward Brown
  • Partner
  • 1899 L Street, NW
    Suite 200
    Washington, DC 20036

Bar & Court Admissions

  • District of Columbia

  • Maryland

  • New York

  • Virginia

  • U.S. Supreme Court

  • U.S. Courts of Appeals for the Second, Third, Fourth, Eighth, Ninth, and District of Columbia Circuits

  • U.S. District Courts for the District of Columbia, the District of Maryland, the Eastern, Northern, and Southern Districts of New York, and the Eastern and Western Districts of Virginia