Charles Tobin, with Ballard Spahr
Charles Tobin, with Ballard Spahr (Dupont Photographers)

Presidential politics may have helped drive a top media partner at Holland & Knight to jump to Ballard Spahr.

Charles Tobin said Monday that he left Holland & Knight because the firm had adopted a policy of not taking on matters that were adverse to President Donald Trump or the executive office of the president. But Holland & Knight said it has no such policy, and routinely represents clients in matters adverse to the executive branch and its agencies.

“These engagements constitute a significant portion of our litigation and transactional practices,” said John Hogan, chairman of Holland & Knight’s litigation section. “Our lawyers are well respected and enjoy good professional relationships with the representatives of the executive branch.”

Tobin said he left the firm, where he practiced for 16 years, on good terms. He also said that all of the firm’s media clients were following him to Ballard Spahr, but a Holland & Knight representative countered that the firm continues to represent “a number of major media companies.”

“As unfortunate as the unparalleled secrecy and hostility the government has shown to the news media, it’s been a reinvigoration for journalism,” Tobin said. Representation from media lawyers is “more necessary to protecting the First Amendment than ever.”

Ballard Spahr announced Tobin’s move to the firm on Monday. He will be the co-chair of the firm’s media and entertainment law group from Washington, D.C., sharing leadership of the practice with his longtime friend David Bodney in Phoenix. Associate Adrianna Rodriguez is also joining the group from Holland & Knight.

Tobin said he brings an East Coast presence to supplement Bodney’s footprint in the Southwest U.S. Between the two of them, Tobin said, they will represent most of the major news outlets in the country.

According to Chambers USA, his clients include NBC News, A&E Television Networks and Fox television stations.

Media law became a greater area of emphasis for Ballard Spahr when Bodney joined the firm’s Phoenix office in 2014, chairman Mark Stewart said. Until then, the firm had no lawyers who spent all or most of their time on media issues. He expects the practice to accelerate its growth now with Tobin’s addition, he said.

“If you name the top media companies in the country, you will name Chuck’s clients,” Stewart said.

Tobin has defended media entities in libel, privacy and copyright cases in more than half of the U.S. states as well as a number of federal courts. He was an in-house lawyer at Gannett for eight years before joining Holland & Knight, and was previously a reporter for the News-Press in Fort Myers, Florida.

His practice includes conducting prepublication content review for media clients, and advising them on subpoenas, privilege, open records requests and First Amendment rights. He also leads a coalition of media clients who are working with the government on drone law and policy for aerial news gathering.

Stewart noted that the additions to the media practice come at a time of increased tension between the public’s access to information and the government’s willingness to share information.

“I don’t know where it’s headed,” Stewart said. “Now we’re going to be prepared.”

But the practice could be helpful to any client of the firm that has questions about how its information is being used and protected, he added.

Tobin said several clients have already contacted him about issues arising out of access to White House press conferences and briefings under Trump’s administration.

“We’re going to be very busy protecting our clients’ interests,” he said.

Note: This story has been updated to include a statement from Holland & Knight disputing Tobin’s assertion that all of his former firm’s media clients were following him to Ballard Spahr.

Copyright The Legal Intelligencer. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Presidential politics may have helped drive a top media partner at Holland & Knight to jump to Ballard Spahr .

Charles Tobin said Monday that he left Holland & Knight because the firm had adopted a policy of not taking on matters that were adverse to President Donald Trump or the executive office of the president. But Holland & Knight said it has no such policy, and routinely represents clients in matters adverse to the executive branch and its agencies.

“These engagements constitute a significant portion of our litigation and transactional practices,” said John Hogan, chairman of Holland & Knight ‘s litigation section. “Our lawyers are well respected and enjoy good professional relationships with the representatives of the executive branch.”

Tobin said he left the firm, where he practiced for 16 years, on good terms. He also said that all of the firm’s media clients were following him to Ballard Spahr , but a Holland & Knight representative countered that the firm continues to represent “a number of major media companies.”

“As unfortunate as the unparalleled secrecy and hostility the government has shown to the news media, it’s been a reinvigoration for journalism,” Tobin said. Representation from media lawyers is “more necessary to protecting the First Amendment than ever.”

Ballard Spahr announced Tobin’s move to the firm on Monday. He will be the co-chair of the firm’s media and entertainment law group from Washington, D.C., sharing leadership of the practice with his longtime friend David Bodney in Phoenix. Associate Adrianna Rodriguez is also joining the group from Holland & Knight .

Tobin said he brings an East Coast presence to supplement Bodney’s footprint in the Southwest U.S. Between the two of them, Tobin said, they will represent most of the major news outlets in the country.

According to Chambers USA, his clients include NBC News, A&E Television Networks and Fox television stations.

Media law became a greater area of emphasis for Ballard Spahr when Bodney joined the firm’s Phoenix office in 2014, chairman Mark Stewart said. Until then, the firm had no lawyers who spent all or most of their time on media issues. He expects the practice to accelerate its growth now with Tobin’s addition, he said.

“If you name the top media companies in the country, you will name Chuck’s clients,” Stewart said.

Tobin has defended media entities in libel, privacy and copyright cases in more than half of the U.S. states as well as a number of federal courts. He was an in-house lawyer at Gannett for eight years before joining Holland & Knight , and was previously a reporter for the News-Press in Fort Myers, Florida.

His practice includes conducting prepublication content review for media clients, and advising them on subpoenas, privilege, open records requests and First Amendment rights. He also leads a coalition of media clients who are working with the government on drone law and policy for aerial news gathering.

Stewart noted that the additions to the media practice come at a time of increased tension between the public’s access to information and the government’s willingness to share information.

“I don’t know where it’s headed,” Stewart said. “Now we’re going to be prepared.”

But the practice could be helpful to any client of the firm that has questions about how its information is being used and protected, he added.

Tobin said several clients have already contacted him about issues arising out of access to White House press conferences and briefings under Trump’s administration.

“We’re going to be very busy protecting our clients’ interests,” he said.

Note: This story has been updated to include a statement from Holland & Knight disputing Tobin’s assertion that all of his former firm’s media clients were following him to Ballard Spahr .

Copyright The Legal Intelligencer. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.