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Bruce W. Sanford



Described by American Journalism Review as one of the most accomplished press lawyers in the nation, Bruce Sanford maintains a media and First Amendment law practice focused on representing high-profile clients in cutting edge and complex litigation. Noted for his knowledge of media law and its environment, he also serves as a counselor to families owning media conglomerates, advising on the evolution of their businesses in a digital world. During a distinguished career spanning four decades, he has been in the forefront of the contours of modern American libel and media law and represented major media outlets from television networks to major newspapers, magazine, and book publishers.

Bruce is ranked in Chambers USA: America's Leading Lawyers for Business and is listed in The Best Lawyers in America©. He was mentioned in The National Law Journal's list of the 100 most influential lawyers in America and in a 1997 Washingtonian article on "The 50 Best Lawyers in Washington," which noted he was "without peer" in First Amendment Law. He has authored a leading treatise on libel and privacy law, Libel and Privacy (Aspen Publishers/Walters Kluwer), which is relied upon by media lawyers and courts throughout the country, as well as the best-selling trade book, Don't Shoot the Messenger: How Our Growing Hatred of the Media Threatens Free Speech for All of Us.

Select Experience

  • Serves as lead counsel defending prominent blogger against a former Obama Administration official in the first case to trigger the District of Columbia’s new Anti-SLAPP statute, which was enacted in 2011 to protect libel defendants from time and expense of defending against meritless claims. Case arose out of commentary concerning a speech given by the plaintiff to an NAACP audience.
  • Represents defendants operating website in defamation action filed by local publicist who sued client over statements made about her on website stemming from postings on her personal social media page. Case addresses issues of first impression under libel law and the First Amendment where one seeks attention and publicity through social media.
  • Represents one of the nation's largest Trusts which controls major media companies. Throughout years of representation, has been instrumental in advance planning for termination of the Trust in 2012 and structuring an agreement among family members to maintain control of the media companies. Additionally, has assisted in structuring and implementation of family office entity and investment in vehicles for family wealth.