This fall, William Powell joined the Reporters Committee as the Ethics & Excellence in Journalism Legal Fellow, where he focuses on First Amendment issues related to libel, privacy, protection of confidential sources, and court access.
“To be able to advance the legal interests of the press and facilitate the work that journalists do every day to help inform citizens is something that I find important, compelling, and exciting,” Bill said.
Bill studied journalism at the University of Missouri, where he covered the men’s basketball team for the student newspaper. While his interests eventually shifted from sports to feature writing, Bill spent several years as a journalist before making the switch to law.
He interned at The New York Times, Esquire, and the Atlanta Journal Constitution before serving as the associate editor of Cincinnati Magazine for two years and senior editor of St. Louis Magazine for more than three years. In his time as a journalist, Bill covered a range of topics, including the death penalty in Missouri, the Ferguson protests, and competitive eating.
“I felt like the writing I did as a journalist made a difference, but I felt like I could have made a bigger difference as a lawyer,” Bill said, adding that he was inspired by the work of some of the lawyers involved in cases he covered as a reporter.
Bill attended Yale Law School, where he was a member of the Capital Punishment Clinic, a notes editor on the Yale Law Journal, and a Coker Fellow for Professor Sam Moyn. He also spent summers at the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Connecticut and the public interest law firm Gupta Wessler PLLC. Bill graduated from law school in 2019.
At the Reporters Committee, Bill handles legal hotline calls involving libel, reporters’ privilege, court access, and other First Amendment issues. He also writes friend-of-the-court briefs for federal and state court cases.
“We’re doing legal work that is in the public interest, and I get to support the free press and all the change-making work that is going on there,” Bill said. “I get to merge my two careers in one.”