Representing content publishers—U.S. and foreign; digital, print and broadcast; and for-profit and nonprofit—Laura Handman draws upon her three decades of experience helping her clients bring to light newsworthy information and then defending them from complaint through appeal. Along the way, Laura has established many of the key precedents that have strengthened the protection for content – winning the first U.S. decisions to refuse to enforce foreign libel judgments, leading to passage of the SPEECH ACT; establishing the standard in New York for libel by implication; establishing a heightened standard before, the government can access records of a customer's expressive content purchases on Amazon, establishing that internet rankings are opinion, and securing for satire protection from libel and right of publicity claims. Laura is on the executive committees of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press and the Counsel for Court Excellence, on the Board of Overseers of the Columbia Journalism Review, and on the Board of The Nantucket Inquirer & Mirror. Laura was ranked Band 1 in Chambers and was Law 360's MVP in Entertainment and Media (2016).
Recent libel cases
Obtaining affirmance by the 4th Circuit of dismissal of libel claim rejecting respondeat superior liability of MSNBC for a tweet of contributor on his personal account (2021); obtained first application of newly amended California retraction statute to apply to publications by an advocacy group (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) to dismiss libel claim by an elephant hunter (Cal. Super. 2021); Obtained an interlocutory appeal and reversal dismissing libel claim against Bloomberg with a ringing endorsement of actual malice by Justice Kavanaugh, then on the D.C. Circuit (2017); defeated libel suit, affirmed by the D.C. Circuit, against Pulitzer Prize-winner Jim Risen and his book publisher for calling plaintiff's antiterrorism software a "hoax" (2017); obtained dismissal of libel claim for a tweet accusing plaintiff of making a white-power gesture (2018); currently defending Greenpeace in two nine-figure libel/civil RICO claims brought by a timber company and by the owner of the Dakota Access Pipeline.
Obtaining and preventing access
Overturned a 34-year-old injunction preventing disclosure by the Department of Health and Human Services under the Freedom of Information Act of what doctors receive from Medicare, leading to the Pulitzer Prize for The Wall Street Journal (2014); established application of New York Shield Law to niche subscription-only online publications (2017); responding to search warrant for recordings of communications with Alexa on Amazon's Echo devices (2017-18); quashing subpoena for Reporter's testimony regarding interview with Jeffrey Epstein's victim (2016); amicus in D.C. Circuit decision recognizing common law right of access to warrants for stored communications and wiretaps.
Obtained dismissal of a copyright claim against Chelsea Clinton and Penguin Random House for her best-selling children's book, "She Persisted" (2018).
Recent Representative Experience
Foreign Libel Cases
Right of Publicity and Misappropriation
Freedom of Information Act and Access to Public Records & Proceedings
Copyright and Theft of Ideas
Admitted to Practice
U.S. Supreme Court
District of Columbia
U.S. Court of Appeals 1st Circuit
U.S. Court of Appeals 2nd Circuit
U.S. Court of Appeals 3rd Circuit
U.S. Court of Appeals 4th Circuit
U.S. Court of Appeals 6th Circuit
U.S. Court of Appeals 9th Circuit
U.S. Court of Appeals 11th Circuit
U.S. District Court District of Maryland
U.S. District Court Southern District of New York
U.S. District Court Eastern District of New York
U.S. District Court District of D.C.
J.D., Boston University School of Law, 1977, magna cum laude
B.A., Yale University, 1973, cum laude
Memberships & Affiliations
- Steering Committee - Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press
- Testimony, House Judiciary Committee, Maryland General Assembly – Testified on behalf of MD/DE/DC Press Association and the Washington Post against bill to establish statutory and descendible right of publicity in Maryland, February 2013
- Testimony, Hearing on Libel Tourism (libel suits brought against U.S.-based defendants in foreign countries) and HR 6146 (related amendment to federal judicial code), Subcommittee on Commercial and Administrative Law of the House Judiciary Committee, February 2009
- Advisory Board, Digital Media Law Project, Online Media Legal Network, Berkman Center for Internet & Society, Harvard Law School
- Co-Taught "Journalism, Law & Society," Columbia Journalism School, Summer 2011
- Co-chair, Dialogue Project: Conversations with Bench, Bar and Press, Council for Court Excellence, 2010–present
- Co-chair, Project Committee, "Journalists' Handbook to the Courts in the District of Columbia," published by the Council for Court Excellence, 2009
- Executive Committee, Council for Court Excellence, 2010-present
- Founder and past Chair, Media Law Committee, Arts, Entertainment and Sports Law Section, District of Columbia Bar
- Past Chair, Communications and Media Law Committee, Association of the Bar of the City of New York
- Past President, Defense Counsel Section, Libel Defense Resource Center
- Named to the "Top Lawyers Hall of Fame" by Washingtonian Magazine, 2022
- Named to "Capital Pro Bono Honor Roll" by the D.C. Court of Appeals and the D.C. Superior Court, 2020
- Named one of "America's Leading Lawyers for Business" by Chambers USA in First Amendment Litigation (Nationwide), 2007-2009, 2011-2022; Media & Entertainment (D.C.), 2005-2018 2020-2022; Received "Band 1" ranking for First Amendment Litigation, 2012-2022; Named a "Star Individual" for Media & Entertainment (D.C.), 2016-2018; Received "Band 1" ranking for Media & Entertainment (D.C.), 2019-2022
- Named "MVP of the Year," Law360, 2016
- Selected by Best Lawyers as Washington D.C.'s "Lawyer of the Year" in First Amendment Litigation in 2014-2017, 2020
- Named one of, "Washington, D.C. & Baltimore's Top Rated Lawyers," by The National Law Journal, 2013
- Selected to "Washington, D.C. Super Lawyers," Thomson Reuters, 2007-2022; in Top 50 Women, 2007-2008, 2010, 2015, 2017-2018; in Top First Amendment/Media/Advertising, 2008-2012; in Intellectual Property, 2011-2015
- Selected to "New York Super Lawyers" in First Amendment/Media/Advertising, Thomson Reuters, 2006-2022
- Named one of the "Best Lawyers in America" in First Amendment Law by Best Lawyers, 1995-present; named in Media Law, 2009-present; named in Litigation - First Amendment, 2011-present
- Named one of "Washington's Top Lawyers" in First Amendment law, 2009-2013, 2022; by Washingtonian Magazine
- Received the 2007 International PEN First Amendment Award from PEN USA, the West Coast center for the worldwide writers' organization
- Recognized in the area of First Amendment Litigation in "The New York Area's Best Lawyers" list published by American Lawyer Media, 2005
- Received the John M. Davis Award for Legal Expertise, Davis Wright Tremaine, 2013
- Former Assistant U.S. Attorney, E.D.N.Y.
- Law Clerk to Chief Judge Raymond J. Pettine, D.R.I.
- Associate & Partner, Coudert Brothers
- Appointed special federal master by S.D.N.Y. judge responsible for reviewing all advertising and promotion of company subject to civil mail fraud action