Protecting Journalists is a joint pro bono collaboration between Microsoft and Davis Wright Tremaine.
The mission is to make pro bono legal services available to journalists and small newsrooms that cannot otherwise afford legal representation. The pilot will launch in Washington state and selected parts of northern and Southern California. Our program consists of three workstreams: Pre-publication review, access to public records, and defending journalists against subpoenas for confidential information.
We are currently in a pilot phase and receiving matters on a case-by-case basis, working in partnership with three nonprofits: Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, First Amendment Coalition, and Washington Coalition for Open Government. Our goal is to support a free and robust press, and we aim to provide support regardless of the point of view of the writer. Before accepting a matter, however, we must ensure we have no conflicts and that the matter falls within the current scope of our program. Consequently, if we decline a matter, it is not necessarily an indication that the matter is not appropriate for legal representation, only that we are unable to assist, due to conflict, timing, resource, or other constraints.
We review submissions (e.g., articles, podcasts, opinion pieces) identified by the writer as potentially high risk, either because of the subject matter or the parties named, and provide legal guidance for the journalist to consider.
Access to Public Records
We seek to support journalists in creating a clearly written request for identifiable documents within a government agency's possession, custody, or control, ensure that it's done in a manner that is compliant with existing laws, and provide legal support to the extent possible in pursuing the request thereafter.
Defending Journalists Against Subpoenas
Often journalists are subpoenaed to testify in litigation where they are not a party, but a topic about which they have previously published content is relevant to the litigation. Where the journalists have been subpoenaed, we seek to defend their right to protect their confidential sources and materials gathered in the course of creating and publishing their work.
Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org with any general questions or comments. We'll do our best to respond as soon as possible. Please note that we cannot accept requests for legal representation through this email. As noted above, requests for assistance under this program should be directed to Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, First Amendment Coalition, or Washington Coalition for Open Government.