Image: Jack Weiss
Jack
Jack M. Weiss
Of Counsel, New Orleans
Hancock Whitney Center
701 Poydras Street
Suite 5000
New Orleans, Louisiana 70139

Overview

Jack Weiss, a Louisiana native, has represented clients in challenging media and business matters for more than forty years. Before joining the firm in September 2016, Jack served as Chancellor and Professor of Law at the LSU Paul M. Hebert Law Center for eight years. He taught courses in Media Law, Comparative Media Law, and First Amendment Rights of Expression and Association. In 2015-16, Jack was a Scholar in Residence at Columbia Law School.

Prior to his appointment as Chancellor, Jack was a partner for nine years in the New York office of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, LLP. Jack served as principal outside publication counsel to Dow Jones & Company, Inc., the publisher of The Wall Street Journal, Barron’s, and their respective online editions. From 1975 to 1998, he practiced law in New Orleans. There, Jack served as lead counsel to the Times-Picayune for more than twenty years and represented numerous other major publishing and broadcast clients. For many years, he was listed in The Best Lawyers in America for First Amendment law and was ranked by Chambers USA as one of the top lawyers in the New York media and entertainment bar.

In both Louisiana and New York, he advised leading media organizations on a wide variety of sensitive publication matters and played a leading role in defending the nation’s media in significant First Amendment litigation.

In addition to his core experience in media law, Jack has broad and diverse experience in a wide variety of transactional and commercial legal matters and litigations. In 1986-87, he served as chairman of the Section on Business and Corporation Law of the Louisiana State Bar Association.

Since stepping down as Chancellor, Jack has completed training courses in arbitration and mediation. He is a member of the National Roster of Commercial Arbitrators of the American Arbitration Association and is available as a neutral to provide both arbitration and mediation services.

Jack served as law clerk to Chief Justice Warren E. Burger of the Supreme Court of the United States from 1972 to 1973, and as law clerk to the Honorable John Minor Wisdom of the United State Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit from 1971 to 1972. From 1973 to 1975, he served as legislative assistant to Senator J. Bennett Johnston of Louisiana. His responsibilities included economic, defense, and national security issues.

Experience

Media 

  • Lead counsel for major publisher defending libel action by Louisiana congressman

  • Lead counsel defending libel action by former chief Muslim chaplain of New York State prison system

  • Lead counsel defending libel action arising from publication of photograph mistakenly identifying plaintiff as a former Guantanamo detainee

  • Lead counsel defending libel action by former New York Gov. Mario Cuomo

  • Lead counsel for Dow Jones in freelance authors’ copyright infringement class action for republication of their works in electronic databases

  • Member of post-trial team that secured complete dismissal with prejudice of $223 million Texas federal court libel verdict, the largest known libel verdict in American legal history

  • Pro bono counsel to Human Rights Watch with respect to its reports on an Iranian opposition group, the MKO, and on the genocide in Rwanda.

  • Lead counsel in novel federal action against Harrod’s and Mohammed Al Fayed seeking declaratory and injunctive relief against U.K. libel action

  • Lead counsel defending ABC in Louisiana defamation, privacy, and newsgathering tort action arising from Prime Time Live expose of Russian baby adoptions

  • Lead counsel for various Louisiana and national media outlets in numerous Louisiana cases successfully disposing of defamation claims of high-visibility defendants, including the brother of former Gov. Edwin Edwards; the former Lt. Gov. of Louisiana, Robert Freeman; and the former Deputy Police Chief of New Orleans, Antoine Saacks

  • Lead counsel for Louisiana and other media in a wide-range of other media-related hearings and trials, many cases of first impression, including obtaining preliminary injunction under 42. U.S.C. section 1983 prohibiting discrimination by public official against Times-Picayune based on content of its news coverage; successfully defeating effort to secure “protective order” prohibiting CBS from using video depositions and other “pure” discovery materials never used or made part of court record in mass tort case; successfully challenging federal district court order prohibiting school board from obeying state open records and open meetings laws in long-pending school desegregation case; and successfully obtaining injunction prohibiting state legislators from interfering with Tulane University’s disclosure of recipients of scholarships to Tulane awarded by legislators.

  • Extensive experience with time-sensitive pre-publication review, including major investigative news articles and book manuscripts (four investigative books in 2005-06).

  • Appeared numerous times before Louisiana Legislature and New Orleans City Council in connection with shield law, public records, open meetings, official journal, and corporate legislation. Principal draftsman of and spokesman for Louisiana statute, adopted 1988, providing qualified reporters’ privilege for unpublished non-confidential information.

Business Litigation and Transactions 

  • Lead counsel defending consumer class action challenging separation of Barron’s Online from WSJ.com

  • Lead counsel in successful defense of former employees’ ERISA action arising from sale of corporate division

  • Lead counsel for the Times-Picayune in litigation with suburban free distribution newspapers over “official journal” (legal) advertising

  • Lead counsel for a major New York City developer in contesting, on constitutional grounds, the City’s eminent domain taking of valuable Manhattan property

  • Co-counsel for railroad in successfully overturning $2.5 billion Louisiana trial court verdict in tank car explosion mass tort case

  • Represented buyers and sellers of Louisiana businesses (generally in acquisitions by publicly traded companies) in numerous transactions in the 1980’s

  • Handled, generally as lead counsel, a wide variety of commercial litigation in Louisiana state and federal courts, including securities, antitrust, legal malpractice, oil and gas, derivative, and banking-related litigation.

Involvement

Professional

  • Louisiana State Bar Association, Member

  • New York State Bar Association, Member

  • District of Columbia Bar Association, Member

  • Columbia, Tulane and Louisiana State University Law Schools,  Adjunct Faculty Member – 1980- 2007

  • Former member ABA Forum on Communications Law, Governing Board

  • Former member New York City and New York State Bar Associations, Media Law Committee

  • Media Law Resource Center’s 50 State Annual Surveys of Libel and Privacy Law, Louisiana Reporter - 1982-2010

  • Survey of State Public Records and Open Meetings Laws published periodically by the Reporters’ Committee for the Freedom of the Press, First Louisiana Reporter

  • American Law Institute, Lifetime Elected Member

Community

  • Board of Directors, Louisiana Appleseed (2016-present)

Recognition

  • New Orleans Magazine's List of "Top Lawyers," 2017

  • Distinguished Alumnus, Isidore Newman School, 2017

  • Traphagen Distinguished Alumnus of Harvard Law School, 2006

  • Co-recipient of 100 Black Men/Forum 35 Baton Rouge Brotherhood & Sisterhood Award, 2010

Presentations

  • Annual meeting, ABA Forum Committee on Communications Law, moderator of plenary session, “Is the First Amendment Flunking Out of College?”, February 2017

  • Co-taught a seminar at Columbia Law School, “The First Amendment and the Institutional Press”, with Judge Robert D. Sack of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit – 2001-2007

  • Annual Communications Law conference of the Practicing Law Institute, principal speaker on libel law – 1998-2007; panel on recent developments in First Amendment Law (2008-2016)

After Hours

"I’m an avid golfer and have played competitively in a variety of settings since I was a teenager. I collect vintage photographs and Louisiana art. I read voraciously, primarily history and biography, and (as you might expect from my media law background), I’m a news “junkie”.  Most importantly, however, I am the father of three wonderful married children and the grandfather of five adorable grandchildren. My kids live in St. Louis, San Francisco, and New York, so my wife and I spend a lot of our free time on the road visiting the family."