Michael D. Sullivan - Levine Sullivan Koch & Schulz, LLP

Michael D. Sullivan

Listed in Best Lawyers since 2007

Mr. Sullivan is one of the founding partners of LSKS and has represented journalists, newspapers, syndicated columnists, production companies, networks, and news sources in high stakes libel, privacy, entertainment, and copyright cases for over 30 years.

Among other landmark cases, he represented columnist Jack Anderson in the successful defense of a libel suit by the self-described Liberty Lobby. Among his notable media trials, he served as lead trial counsel for a Minneapolis TV station, obtaining a defense verdict after a six-week jury trial in a libel suit filed by a widow who claimed she had been falsely accused of murdering her husband.

Mr. Sullivan has taught media law as an Adjunct Professor at the Georgetown University Law Center and at the University of Maryland College of Journalism. Prior to founding LSKS, Mr. Sullivan was a partner at Ross, Dixon & Masback, L.L.P. He began his legal career at White & Case in Washington, DC.

The Ohio State UniversityBA 1977Georgetown University Law CenterJ.D. 1980
Media Law Resource Center, Trial Practice Committee

Case History

Kendall v. Daily News Publishing Co., 716 F.3d 82 (3d Cir. 2013) — Mr.Sullivan served as lead trial and appellate counsel for the Virgin Islands Daily News in a defamation suit by a local judge. Following a two-week jury trial, the trial court entered judgment in the newspaper’s favor. That decision was affirmed by the Virgin Islands Supreme Court and the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, which issued a significant ruling detailing the requirements public officials must meet when they claim to be defamed by alleged implications.
OAO Alfa-Bank v. Center for Public Integrity, 387 F. Supp. 2d 20 (D.D.C 2005) — Mr. Sullivan led a team of LSKS attorneys in successfully defending the Center for Public Integrity in a libel suit brought by prominent Russian “oligarchs” arising from a report linking them to criminal activities during Russia’s turbulent transition to a capitalist economy.
Stepnes v. Ritschel, 663 F.3d 952 (8th Cir. 2011) — Mr. Sullivan successfully defended a CBS television station in an action alleging defamation and interference with contract claims arising from a news report on a developer’s “home give-away contest,” including his arrest on a charge of unlawful gambling. The Eighth Circuit affirmed the ruling that the plaintiff was a limited purpose public figure because he had voluntarily thrust himself to the forefront of the pre-existing controversy over the legality of the contest. The court further held that the plaintiff could not satisfy his burden to prove actual malice and that some of the challenged statements were substantially true.
Towler v. Sayles, 76 F.3d 579 (4th Cir. 1996) — Mr. Sullivan served as lead trial counsel for award-winning director John Sayles and Miramax Films in a copyright infringement action arising from the highly acclaimed motion picture “Passion Fish.” After a one-week jury trial, the court entered judgment as a matter of law for the defendants, and the Fourth Circuit affirmed.

Client Comments

"Top-notch litigator. Extremely effective with clients."

"Michael Sullivan is probably the best jury-trial lawyer for a media defendant bar none. And his common-sense approach and proactive problem solving mean most of his matters never reach a jury."

"Michael is perhaps the best lawyer I have ever worked with. He is highly conscientious and knowledgeable, and his judgment is without question. On top of that, Michael is an incredibly nice guy, which informs his interaction with both the client and the parties."

Office Location

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

Lawyer of the Year Awards

2012 Lawyer of the Year in Media Law of the Washington DC Metro Area
Michael D. Sullivan has earned a Lawyer of the Year award for 2012!

Practice Areas

First Amendment Law (Defamation, Media)
Litigation - First Amendment
Media Law