Local law firms say they’ll be more guarded with the media about their activities in the wake of a federal court opinion ruling that lawyers can be sued for defamatory statements in a press release.

In his 40-page opinion last week in Computer Aid Inc. v. Hewlett-Packard Co., U.S. District Judge Franklin S. Van Antwerpen refused to dismiss counterclaims against the law firm of Anderson Kill Olick & Oshinsky after finding that a jury could decide its press release violated the “fair report” privilege that lawyers normally enjoy. He said lawyers and law firms could be sued if a press release issued at the time a lawsuit is filed creates a false impression about the nature and severity of the allegations in the court papers.

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