Lee J. Levine - Levine Sullivan Koch & Schulz, LLP

Lee J. Levine

Listed in Best Lawyers since 1995

Mr. Levine has represented media clients in libel, invasion of privacy, reporter’s privilege, access, copyright, and related First Amendment cases for more than thirty-five years. In the United States Supreme Court, he has argued for the media defendants in Harte-Hanks Communications, Inc. v. Connaughtonand Bartnicki v. Vopper. Mr. Levine also has litigated in the courts of more than 20 states and the District of Columbia and has appeared in most federal courts of appeal and in the highest courts of ten states.

Mr. Levine served as an Adjunct Professor of Law at the Georgetown University Law Center from 1989 to 2016. He is the lead author of the treatise Newsgathering and the Law, now in its Fourth Edition; he co-authored the casebook Media and the Law, now in its Second Edition; and most recently, together with Professor Stephen Wermiel, he co-authored The Progeny: Justice William J. Brennan’s Fight to Preserve the Legacy of New York Times v. Sullivan, published by the American Bar Association Press to commemorate the 50th anniversary of that landmark decision.

Mr. Levine began his legal career as a law clerk to the Honorable Irving R. Kaufman, then-Chief Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. Prior to founding LSKS in 1997, Mr. Levine was a partner in the Washington, DC-based firm Ross, Dixon & Masback.

University of PennsylvaniaBA 1976University of PennsylvaniaMA 1976Yale Law SchoolJ.D. 1979
Bureau of National AffairsABA Forum on Communications Law Media Law Resource Center, Defense Counsel Section District of Columbia Bar, Publications CommitteeDistrict of Columbia Bar, Media Law Committee Louisiana State University, Paul M. Herbert Law CenterFirst Amendment SalonPracticing Law InstituteSouthwestern Law SchoolGeorgetown University Law Center

Case History

Harte-Hanks Communications, Inc. v. Connaughton, 491 U.S. 657 (1989) — Mr. Levine argued on behalf of the newspaper defendant in the United States Supreme Court in a defamation action arising from a news report alleging that a judicial candidate acted unethically. The Court held that, for the candidate to prevail, he had to demonstrate that the newspaper did more than merely depart from professional standards in reporting the story. The Court also reaffirmed the principle that appellate courts must independently review the record in defamation actions instituted by public officials or public figures.
United States v. Microsoft Corp., 165 F.3d 952 (D.C. Cir. 1999) — Mr. Levine represented and argued on behalf of The New York Times and other news organizations that sought to attend pretrial depositions in this watershed civil antitrust case. The District of Columbia Circuit affirmed the trial court’s order requiring that the public and press be admitted to the depositions.
Hatfill v. The New York Times Co., 532 F.3d 312 (4th Cir. 2008) — Mr. Levine successfully defended The New York Times in a defamation action brought by a prominent bio-defense expert named by the FBI as a “person of interest” in the investigation of the 2001 anthrax mailings. The scientist claimed the newspaper falsely implicated him in connection with the mailings. The trial court granted the newspaper’s motion for summary judgment and the Fourth Circuit affirmed, finding the plaintiff was a limited-purpose public figure who failed to establish actual malice.
Bartnicki v. Vopper, 532 U.S. 514 (2001) — Mr. Levine argued on behalf of 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 wiretapping 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.
Ventura v. Kyle, --- F.3d ----, 2016 WL 3228373 (8th Cir. 2016) — Mr. Levine argued on behalf of the estate of the late Chris Kyle, a sniper for the Navy SEALs, and secured the appellate reversal of a $1.85 million jury verdict in favor of former Minnesota governor and professional wrestler Jesse Ventura for unjust enrichment and defamation. The court held that there is no valid claim for unjust enrichment in the context of an alleged defamation and remanded Ventura’s defamation claim for a new trial.

Client Comments

"Outstanding in all areas of media law. One of the best appellate advocates in the practice."

"While the entire firm is excellent, there is not a media/first amendment lawyer in the country who is more knowledgeable than Lee Levine. Lee is the first lawyer I turn to for advice when any media law question arises."

"Lee Levine is, in my opinion and the opinion of many others, the dean of First Amendment law. He is also smart, perceptive, cost-conscious, and always available to his clients. He has built an excellent law firm."

Office Location

1899 L Street, NW, Suite 200
Washington, DC 20036
United States

Lawyer of the Year Awards

2016 Lawyer of the Year in First Amendment Law of the Washington DC Metro Area2013 Lawyer of the Year in Media Law of the Washington DC Metro Area2011 Lawyer of the Year in First Amendment Law of the Washington DC Metro Area
Lee J. Levine has earned a Lawyer of the Year award for 2016!Lee J. Levine has earned a Lawyer of the Year award for 2013!Lee J. Levine has earned a Lawyer of the Year award for 2011!

Practice Areas

First Amendment Law (Appellate, Constitutional, Defamation, Defendants, Election, Litigation, Media, Supreme Court)
Litigation - First Amendment
Media Law

Other Information

Gender: Male