Bruce W. Sanford

Partner

Washington, D.C.
T +1.202.861.1626
F +1.202.861.1783

"...a 'top-of-the-line' First Amendment litigator. [Bruce] is esteemed by peers . . . and described by clients as 'proactive, experienced and commercially aware.'"

— Chambers USA 2013

Overview

Mentioned in The National Law Journals list of the 100 most influential lawyers in America (1991), and described by American Journalism Review as one of the most accomplished press lawyers in the nation, Bruce Sanford maintains a Washington, D.C., and national practice focused on representing high-profile clients in cutting-edge and complex matters, frequently with high-stakes public affairs considerations. 

During a distinguished career spanning four decades, Bruce has been at the forefront of the contours of modern American media law and has represented virtually every major media outlet and a wide variety of multinational companies, financial institutions and investors. Noted for his ability to mobilize public support for his clients’ interests, he has represented most leading national news media and book publishers, including E.W. Scripps, Hearst Corporation, ABC, NBC, Fox Television, National Geographic, Breitbart News, Grupo Ferre Rangel and Random House. He represented President Clinton in the negotiation of a book contract, and first lady Barbara Bush and author John Grisham in libel and copyright cases, respectively. He has authored a leading treatise on libel and privacy law Libel and Privacy (Wolters Kluwer), 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

  • Served as counsel defending a Breitbart Inc. editor against a former Obama Administration official over Breitbart’s commentary concerning a speech given by the plaintiff to an NAACP audience.
  • Instrumental in strategic planning for a multibillion-dollar Trust in structuring an agreement among family members to maintain control of family-owned companies and implementing a family office and investment vehicles for family wealth.
  • Serves as general counsel to the Society of Professional Journalists, the largest and oldest organization of journalists in the United States, on Capitol Hill and in Washington.
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Experience

  • Served as counsel defending a Breitbart Inc. editor against a former Obama Administration official over Breitbart's commentary concerning a speech given by the plaintiff to an NAACP audience.
  • Was instrumental in the strategic planning for a multibillion-dollar trust in structuring an agreement among family members to maintain control of family-owned companies, and implementing a family office and investment vehicles for family wealth.
  • Serves as general counsel to the Society of Professional Journalists, the largest and oldest organization of journalists in the United States on Capitol Hill and in Washington. 
  • Defended The New York Times in a seminal libel case brought by an author against the New York Times Book Review.
  • Won a controversial five-year lawsuit for Esquire magazine brought by former White House National Security Adviser Robert McFarlane.

Recognitions and Memberships

Recognitions

  • Chambers USA
    • Nationwide First Amendment Litigation (2003 to 2017)
    • Media and Entertainment in the District of Columbia (2003 to 2017)
  • Freedom of Information Hall of Fame: Elected Member (2006)
  • Cleveland Club of Washington, D.C.: Harold Hitz Burton Award (2006)
  • The Washingtonian "The 50 Best Lawyers in Washington" (1997)
  • The National Law Journal: List of the 100 most influential attorneys in America (1991)
  • The Best Lawyers in America© (2006 to 2018)
    • Washington, D.C.: First Amendment Law
    • Washington, D.C.: Media Law
  • Washington, D.C. "Super Lawyer" (2007 to 2017)
  • Martindale-Hubbell: AV Preeminent

Memberships

  • University of Virginia, The Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression: Charter Trustee and Chairman
  • International Center for Journalists: Board Member

Community

  • The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts: National Symphony Orchestra Board Member
  • PBS's flagship station WETA (Washington) Board Member
  • Washington National Cathedral: Governing Body Member
  • National Cathedral Association: President (2003 to 2005)
  • National Cathedral School for Girls: Governing Board Member
  • National Presbyterian School in Washington: Governing Board Member
  • National Law Center for Homelessness and Poverty: 10th Anniversary Benefit Chair
  • Centennial Gala of the Washington National Cathedral: Chair (2007)

Prior Positions

  • BakerHostetler Cleveland office: Appointed by judges of Common Pleas Court as chairman of the board of Cuyahoga County Public Library

Admissions

  • U.S. Supreme Court
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, First Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Third Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Fourth Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Tenth Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Eleventh Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, District of Columbia Circuit
  • U.S. District Court, District of Maryland
  • U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York
  • U.S. District Court, District of Columbia
  • Maryland, 1985
  • District of Columbia, 1981
  • Ohio, 1971
  • New York, 1970

Education

  • J.D., New York University School of Law, 1970
  • A.B., Hamilton College, 1967, cum laude