• Georgetown University Law Center (J.D., magna cum laude, 2011)
    Order of the Coif

  • University of Georgia (B.A. 2003)

Memberships & Affiliations

  • National Press Club

  • Media Law Resource Center, Prepublication Committee

  • American University, Adjunct Professor

  • Loyola University Maryland, Affiliate Professor

Honors & Distinctions

  • Recognized by Washington, DC Super Lawyers as a Rising Star in Media & Advertising

Selected Publications
Mara J. Gassmann

Mara represents media and entertainment clients in a variety of matters implicating their First Amendment and intellectual property rights. She joined LSKS after serving as a law clerk to the Honorable Leonie M. Brinkema of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia.

Before beginning her legal career, Mara was a spokesperson for CNN in its Washington, DC bureau. During law school, she again worked with CNN as a freelance legal writer during the confirmation hearings of Justice Sonia Sotomayor and also interned for Reporters Without Borders, where she produced a primer on U.S. asylum law for foreign journalists, and for the Honorable Emmet G. Sullivan of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia.

Notable Matters

Jankovic v. International Crisis Group, 822 F.3d 576 (D.C. Cir. 2016). Mara worked with Michael Sullivan and Celeste Phillips to obtain victories in the trial and appellate courts on behalf of International Crisis Group, a non-profit organization committed to preventing and resolving deadly conflicts around the globe, in a long-running case brought by a Serbian businessman who claimed that he was defamed in a Crisis Group report analyzing political turmoil in Serbia. Following extensive discovery and numerous judicial proceedings spanning multiple countries on two continents, the district court granted summary judgment for Crisis Group. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit affirmed in a unanimous opinion holding that the plaintiff, a billionaire supporter and friend of Serbia’s late prime minister, was a public figure unable to show clear and convincing evidence of actual malice.

Constand v. Cosby, 833 F.3d 405 (3d Cir. 2016). Mara and her LSKS colleagues successfully argued on behalf of the Associated Press that discovery motions sealed for more than eight years in a civil suit for sexual assault should be unsealed. The court concluded that the defendant, Bill Cosby, could not meet the “good cause” criteria for sealing under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26(c) and immediately unsealed the motions papers. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit subsequently dismissed Cosby’s appeal as moot.

Wyoming Corp. Services v. CNBC, LLC, 32 F. Supp. 3d. 1177 (D. Wyo. 2014). Mara, together with Kate Bolger and Tom Kelley, successfully represented NBCUniversal and Thomson Reuters against defamation claims brought by a corporate registration agent over an investigative report on corporate secrecy. Based on the article as a whole and public records, and before any discovery was taken, the court granted summary judgment for the defendants, finding that the publication was non-defamatory on its face and, in any event, substantially true.

Stepanov v. Journalism Development Network, Inc. (Md. Ct. Spec. App. 2014). Mara worked with Jay Ward Brown and Michael Sullivan to defend a journalism not-for-profit against defamation claims brought by a Cypriot corporation and its Russian owner arising from a series of online articles about international organized crime and money laundering. After the trial court dismissed all claims against the non-profit, that ruling was unanimously affirmed by the appellate court, which held that it was not defamatory to accurately report plaintiffs' associations with persons and entities accused of criminal activities.



  • Mara J. Gassmann
  • Associate
  • 1899 L Street, NW
    Suite 200
    Washington, DC 20036

Bar & Court Admissions

  • Virginia

  • District of Columbia

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

  • U.S. District Courts for the District of Columbia, the Eastern District of Virginia, and the Northern District of Illinois