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Admitted to Practice

  • Maryland
  • District of Columbia
  • U.S. Supreme Court
  • U.S. Court of Appeals D.C. Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals 2nd Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals 4th Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals 5th Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals 6th Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals 7th Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals 8th Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals 11th Circuit
  • U.S. District Court District of Maryland
  • U.S. District Court District of Columbia

Lisa B. Zycherman

Lisa Zycherman represents and counsels clients on a wide range of issues in First Amendment, media, and intellectual property law, including libel, copyright, trademark, right of publicity, privacy, and newsgathering matters. Lisa also advises newspaper, magazine, website, television, film, and book-publishing clients on pre-publication and pre-broadcast legal issues.

Lisa maintains an active pro bono constitutional law practice, focusing on First Amendment protection, and serves on the Davis Wright Tremaine Pro Bono Committee

Representative Experience

Abbott v. Pastides

Representing a student and two student groups in an action challenging a number of University of South Carolina policies, including a free speech zone policy that restricts student speech to a few areas of campus and requires that students register in advance before they can exercise their First Amendment rights. The lawsuit also challenges USC’s Student Non-Discrimination and Non-Harassment Policy, a vague and overbroad restriction that prohibits "unwelcome" speech and "suggestive or insulting gestures or sounds." (D.S.C. Ongoing)

Beverly v. Watson

Representing two professors in action seeking relief from unconstitutional speech policies at Chicago State University and an order enjoining administrators from continuing efforts to shut down the professors’ blog, which is often critical of the University’s administration. Motion to dismiss denied, Beverly v. Watson, 78 F.Supp.3d 717 (N.D. Ill. 2015) (N.D. Ill., Ongoing)

Gerlich v. Leath

Representing Iowa State University student members of the university chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML ISU) challenging the University adoption and enforcement of policies that unconstitutionally restrict the group’s ability to engage in political advocacy through license of university trademarks for t-shirts and other apparel. Motion for summary judgment partially granted. Gerlich v. Leath, 152 F.Supp.3d 1152 (S.D. Iowa 2016), aff’d, 847 F.3d 1005 (8th Cir. 2017), amended & superseded, --- F.3d ---, 2017 WL 2543363 (8th Cir. June 13, 2017)

Resolute Forest Products, Inc. et al. v. Greenpeace International, et al.

Representing Greenpeace in defamation and RICO action brought by forestry company arising from Greenpeace’s speech about the impact of company’s activities on the environment. Successfully transferred case from Georgia to California; motion to dismiss and to strike under anti-SLAPP statute granted; renewed motions after amendment granted as to RICO and all but 2 of the 296 alleged defamatory statements. 2019 WL 281370 (N.D. Cal. 2019)

Smith v. Westminster Mgmt. LLC

Successfully represented coalition of media organizations including The Baltimore Sun, The Washington Post, the Associated Press, ProPublica, and WMAR-TV, which is owned and operated by Scripps Media, in intervention and opposition to effort by Jared Kushner’s family real estate company to have the identities of its investment partners sealed in lawsuit filed by tenants of its Baltimore-area apartment complexes.  Smith v. Westminster Mgmt., LLC, 2018 WL 572867 (D. Md. Jan. 26, 2018)

Watkins v. CNN, et al.

Successfully defended cable news network and its reporter in libel and false light suit arising from CNN online news article and social media posts, titled "Behind Trump’s 'job interview' with Alicia Watkins." Lawsuit is brought by a veteran whose appearance at a Trump presidential campaign rally sparked controversy when the candidate engaged her in an impromptu job interview. (D. Md. 2018)

Watkins v. The Washington Post et al.

Successfully defended newspaper and its reporters in libel, false light, and intentional infliction of emotional distress suit arising from three Washington Post articles, including “What was with that random woman who got a job interview at Trump’s news conference?” Lawsuit was brought by a veteran whose appearance at a Trump presidential campaign rally sparked controversy.  All claims dismissed with prejudice.  Watkins v. The Washington Post, 2018 WL 805394 (D. Md. Feb. 9, 2018)

Montgomery v. Risen et al.

Successfully represented Pulitzer-Prize winning journalist James Risen and his publisher, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company, in libel suit brought by Dennis Montgomery, a former U.S. military contractor, in suit arising from reporting in the book "Pay Any Price: Greed, Power and Endless War." Plaintiff claimed to invent software that could read coded messages on Al Jazeera broadcasts instructing terrorists where to attack next. Obtained summary judgment of all claims in district court, which observed "[t]he twists and turns of this case could fill the pages of a book. In fact, much of it already has." Montgomery v. Risen, 197 F. Supp. 3d 219 (D.D.C. 2016). Judgment affirmed on appeal holding Montgomery failed to demonstrate Risen’s statements were false. Montgomery v. Risen, 875 F.3d 709 (D.C. Cir. 2017), Rehearing en banc denied (D.C. Cir. 2018)

Von Kahl v. The Bureau of National Affairs

Successfully represented The Bureau of National Affairs (BNA) in interlocutory appeal of district court’s denial of summary judgment to BNA and the court’s ruling on actual malice. Obtained D.C. Circuit decision reversing district court and holding inaccuracy of publication alone does not constitute sufficient evidence of actual malice to overcome summary judgment. Von Kahl v. Bureau of National Affairs, Inc., 856 F.3d 106 (D.C. Cir. 2017) (Kavanaugh, J.), cert denied (U.S. 2018)

Buchanan v. Alexander

Representing professor in civil rights action to strike down unconstitutional enforcement of Louisiana State University sexual harassment policy, pursuant to which she was fired for occasional use of profanity. The challenged policy mirrors "blueprint" language proposed by the U.S. Departments of Education and Justice. Professor also seeks reinstatement to her position as a tenured professor. (M.D. La. Ongoing)

Sanders v. Guzman

Represented Blinn College student who was instructed by university official that she and her friends would need "special permission" to display political signs on campus, and to remain within the college’s "free speech zone" if she wanted to demonstrate. As part of the settlement agreement, Blinn College agreed to revise restrictive policies targeted in the lawsuit to comply with the First Amendment.  Blinn also agreed to pay student Nicole Sanders $50,000 for damages and attorney’s fees.  (W.D. Tex. 2016)

Dariano v. Morgan Hill Unified School District

Submitted amicus brief on behalf of Mary Beth Tinker and John Tinker in support of petitioner urging reversal of 9th Circuit decision allowing school officials to prevent students from engaging in silent, passive expression of opinion because other students might react negatively to the message, which was contrary to the Court’s holding in the landmark opinion Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District, 393 U.S. 503 (1969). (U.S. 2015)

Jergins v. Williams

Represented students at Dixie State University in First Amendment challenge to unconstitutional enforcement of a "free speech zone" and to policies that impose prior restraints on students’ speech. Students further allege that the university refused to approve promotional flyers produced by the Young Americans for Liberty (YAL) student group that featured images negatively portraying Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, and Che Guevara because school policy does not permit students to "disparage" or "mock individuals." University agreed to revise restrictive speech policies and pay $50,000 in damages and attorneys’ fees. (D. Utah 2015)

Kalamazoo Peace Center v. Dunn

Western Michigan University settled with nonprofit student organization and its two co-directors in civil rights action against university administrators who demanded that the organization pay a hefty and arbitrary security fee before hosting rapper and social activist at annual event. In settlement, University adopted new policies to comply with the First Amendment and pay $35,000 in damages and attorneys’ fees (W.D. Mich. 2015)

Prison Legal News v. Samuels

Represented nonprofit publication in Freedom of Information Act appeal of federal Bureau of Prisons' failure to produce unredacted documents concerning settlements of civil claims due to alleged employee malfeasance. Prison Legal News v. Samuels, 787 F.3d 1142 (D.C. Cir. 2015)

Smith v. McDavis

Ohio University settled with student after he and fellow student group members were ordered by administrators not to wear a t-shirt advertising their student defense service featuring the phrase "We get you off for free." In settlement, University adopted new policies to adopt a definition of harassment that complies with the First Amendment and paid student $32,000. (S.D Ohio 2015)

Tomas v. Coley

Represented student at California Polytechnic State University, Pomona who was stopped by campus police from handing out flyers without a "permit" outside the campus "free speech zone." University agreed to settlement that obligated it to revise restrictive speech codes challenged in the lawsuit and pay $35,000 in damages and attorneys’ fees. (C.D. Cal. 2015)

Burch v. University System of Hawaii

Represented students in civil rights lawsuit claiming denial of their right to hand out literature, the unconstitutionality of the university’s "free speech zone," and the failure of university officials to adequately train administrators on the rights of college students. Resulted in settlement under which the entire University of Hawaii system agreed to revise its policies to allow free speech in open areas across all campuses and to pay plaintiffs $50,000. (D. Haw. 2014)

Martin v. New York Daily News, L.P.

Obtained unanimous affirmance of summary judgment for daily newspaper and columnist Errol Louis in libel action brought by a sitting judge on grounds of no actual malice. Obtained unanimous affirmance of dismissal of second suit on grounds that restoration of columns to the website did not constitute republication retriggering statute of limitations. 990 N.Y.S.2d 473 (App. Div. 1st Dept. 2014), leave to appeal denied (N.Y. Oct. 27, 2014). Brendan Pierson, Ruling Upholds Dismissal of Judge’s Defamation Suit, NYLJ (July 18, 2014); Kelly Knaub, "Court Won’t Revive Justice’s $10M Daily News Defamation Suit," Law 360 (July 17, 2014).

Minority Television Project v. FCC

Submitted amicus brief on behalf of the Cato Institute in support of Minority Television Project urging the U.S. Supreme Court to give broadcast television full First Amendment protection. (U.S. 2014)

Riley v. California and U.S. v. Wurie

Submitted amicus brief on behalf of National Press Photographers Association, Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, and a coalition of media organizations, urging the U.S. Supreme Court to examine the constitutionality of warrantless searches of cell phone data incident to arrest. (U.S. 2014)

Sinapi-Riddle v. Citrus Community College District

Represented student who was threatened with removal from campus for asking a fellow student to sign a petition outside the College’s restrictive "free speech area." Obtained $110,000 settlement under which College agreed to revise its policies to permit free expression in all open areas of campus and to adopt a definition of harassment that complies with the First Amendment. (C.D. Cal. 2014)

Sunset Concepts v. Discovery Communications

Defended Discovery in theft of ideas suit relating to creation of OWN, the Oprah Winfrey Network, and its programming. Case dismissed. (S.D. Fla. 2014)

Van Tuinen v. Modesto Community College

Represented student in civil rights lawsuit against community college district that prevented him from handing out copies of the U.S. Constitution on Constitution Day, resulting in settlement under which the district agreed to revise its policies to allow free speech in open areas across campus and agreed to pay plaintiff $50,000. (E.D. Cal. 2014)

Chamber of Commerce of the United States v. Servin, et al.

Represented the Yes Men against trademark claims filed after they performed a political parody of the Chamber of Commerce's controversial position on global climate change; three years after defendants moved to dismiss, the Chamber dropped its lawsuit. USDC D.C. 09cv 2014 (2013)

Barnes v. Zaccari

Counsel in case holding that qualified immunity does not protect university president who summarily expelled students for exercising First Amendment rights in violation of procedural due process requirements. (11th Cir. 2012)

Dilek v. New York Daily News, L.P. et al.

Obtained dismissal of libel action for daily newspaper arising from reporting on plaintiff’s numerous legal proceedings. No. 113828/2011 (N.Y. Sup. Ct. 2012).

Maya Stendhal Gallery, et al. v. NYP Holdings, Inc., et al.

Obtained dismissal of libel action brought by gallery owner. No. 651899/2011 (N.Y. Sup. Ct. 2012)

Shaofon Gong v. Dow Jones, et al.

Obtained dismissal of libel action for three daily newspapers arising out of police misidentification in an arson/murder/suicide. 652905/11 (N.Y. Cnty. Sup. Ct. 2012)

ACLU v. Office of Director of National Intelligence, et. al.

Secured for national civil liberties organization a federal court order in 2011 requiring more detailed explanation from agencies that withheld records under the Freedom of Information Act relating to intelligence community's use of sweeping electronic surveillance powers under the 2008 FISA Amendments Act. (S.D.N.Y. 2011)

Additional Qualifications

  • Law Clerk, Hon. Ellen L. Hollander, Maryland Court of Special Appeals, 2004-2005

Professional & Community Activities

  • Board Member, Council for Court Excellence
  • Co-chair, Pre-Publication/Pre-Broadcast Committee, Media Law Resource Center
  • Media Law Committee of the Arts, Entertainment and Sports Law Section, District of Columbia Bar Association
  • American Bar Association

Professional Recognition

  • Selected to "Washington D.C. Super Lawyers" in Media and Advertising, Thomson Reuters, 2018
  • Named "Litigator of the Week," Litigation Daily, 03.01.19
  • Selected to "Washington D.C. Rising Star" in Media and Advertising, Thomson Reuters, 2014
  • Named to "Capital Pro Bono Honor Roll" by the D.C. Court of Appeals and the D.C. Superior Court, 2012-2014
  • Member of the firm's Guantanamo litigation team honored among other lawyers and law firms for providing pro bono services to Guantanamo prisoners with both the National Legal Aid & Defender Association Beacon of Justice Award and The Southern Center for Human Rights 2007 Human Rights Award
  • Davis Wright Tremaine Heart of Justice Award, 2009