Mara Gassmann is a senior staff attorney at the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press. She oversees the Reporters Committee’s amicus curiae program, which ensures the news media’s arguments on critical press issues, such as newsgathering, the reporter’s privilege, defamation, and access to courts and government records, are represented in state and federal courts throughout the country.
Prior to joining the Reporters Committee, Mara was of counsel in the Media & Entertainment Group at Ballard Spahr LLP, where she specialized in litigating on behalf of news media, filmmakers, and nonprofit organizations to protect their First Amendment and intellectual property rights. She also provided pre-publication review and newsroom counseling to journalist and nonprofit clients, advising some through months- or years-long investigations. Mara joined Ballard Spahr during its 2017 merger with the highly regarded boutique media law firm Levine, Sullivan, Koch & Schulz LLP, where she was as an associate. Before that, she served as a law clerk to the Honorable Leonie M. Brinkema of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia.
Mara is a co-author of “Anonymous Online Speech," published by the Practising Law Institute in “Communications Law in the Digital Age (2015),” and the annual updates to that chapter from 2016-2022. She also co-authored the chapter, “The Reality of Contemporary Libel Litigation,” in the white paper “New York Times v. Sullivan: The Case for Preserving an Essential Precedent (2022),” published by the Media Law Resource Center. She has co-authored testimony for congressional subcommittee hearings on First Amendment-related topics, has spoken about U.S. free expression law to legal and non-legal audiences in forums inside and outside the United States, and regularly delivers media law trainings to reporters. Mara has served as an adjunct professor at American University in Washington, D.C., and Loyola University Maryland, and as a guest lecturer at her undergraduate alma mater, the University of Georgia.
Mara serves on the board of directors of the National Press Club Journalism Institute. She is a member of the National Press Club, the MLRC, the American Bar Association Forum on Communications, for which she is past co-chair of its Training & Development Committee, and the International Bar Association.
Mara graduated magna cum laude from the Georgetown University Law Center and was a member of the Order of the Coif. Before beginning her legal career, she was a spokesperson for CNN in its Washington, D.C., bureau.
She is admitted to practice law in Virginia and the District of Columbia.