The Lawyer as Public Figure for First Amendment Purposes

56 Pages Posted: 31 Jan 2016 Last revised: 8 Apr 2016

See all articles by Alex B. Long

Alex B. Long

University of Tennessee College of Law

Date Written: January 29, 2016

Abstract

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

Long, Alex B., The Lawyer as Public Figure for First Amendment Purposes (January 29, 2016). Boston College Law Review, Forthcoming; University of Tennessee Legal Studies Research Paper No. 286. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2724880 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2724880

Alex B. Long (Contact Author)

University of Tennessee College of Law ( email )

1505 West Cumberland Ave.
Knoxville, TN 37996
United States

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