The Lawyer as Public Figure for First Amendment Purposes
56 Pages Posted: 31 Jan 2016 Last revised: 8 Apr 2016
Date Written: January 29, 2016
Should lawyers be treated as public figures for purposes of defamation claims and, therefore, be subjected to a higher evidentiary standard of actual malice under the Supreme Court’s decision in New York Times v. Sullivan? The question of whether lawyers should be treated as public figures raises broad questions about the nature of defamation law and the legal profession. By examining the Supreme Court’s defamation jurisprudence through the lens of cases involving lawyers as plaintiffs, one can see the deficiencies and inconsistencies in the Court’s opinions more clearly. And by examining the Court’s defamation cases through this lens, one can also see more clearly some of the complexities the legal profession now faces and the sometimes uncertain nature of its role.
Keywords: Defamation, actual malice, New York Times, professional responsibility, legal ethics, legal profession
JEL Classification: K13
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation