Laura Lee Prather is a partner in the Business Litigation Practice Group in the Austin office of Haynes and Boone, LLP. Laura focuses her practice on First Amendment privacy, and intellectual property counseling and litigation arising out of both traditional and online media contexts. She is also an advocate and lobbyist for open government and First Amendment concerns at the Legislature. Laura has many years of experience in the industry and her practice includes general commercial, tax and employment work for media clients as well. She advises clients concerning media law issues for an extensive array of content providers including online and traditional newspapers, magazines, radio and broadcasters, cable television stations, production companies and music and sports entities. She regularly wins early dismissal and summary judgment - oftentimes without the expense of discovery.
Laura was the lead author and negotiator for the two most significant pieces of First Amendment legislation in recent history in Texas - both the reporters' privilege and the anti-SLAPP statute. Through her lobbying efforts, Laura both formed and led the coalition on the anti-SLAPP bill, House Bill 2973, in the State of Texas. This bill was passed unanimously in both the House and the Senate and was signed by the governor of Texas on June 17, 2011. The bill is designed to deter frivolous lawsuits directed at newsrooms and media personnel.
In 2011, Laura was named by The American Lawyer as one of the best young women lawyers in the nation. She was recognized for her substantial career as a fierce advocate dedicated to preserving the First Amendment - defending media companies in cases involving privacy rights, alleged defamation, and trademark and copyright infringement. In addition, Laura is the first woman to receive Texas Daily Newspaper Association's "Legacy Award," and has been named Texas Association of Broadcasters' "Associate of the Year" and as one of Texas Lawyer's "Extraordinary Women in Texas Law."
- McClain v. USA Today Newspaper, 2010 WL 2404651 (Tex. App. - Dallas 2010).
- In re Rabb, 293 S.W. 3d 865 (Tex. App. - Dallas 2009, no pet.).
- Rosenfeld v. Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp., 37 Med. L. Rptr. 1348 (C.D. Cal. 2009).
- Huffman v. Best for Texas PAC, 37 Med. L. Rptr. 1351 (Tx. Dist. Ct. - Harris Co. 2008).
- KENS-TV, Inc. v. Farias, 36 Media L. Rep. 1076 (Tex. App. - Dallas 2007, no pet.).
- In re BP Products North America Inc., 263 S.W.3d 117 (Tex. App. - Hou. [1st Dist.] 2006, no pet.).
- Topheavy Studios, Inc. v. Doe, 33 Media L. Rep. 2192 (Tex. App. - Austin 2005, no pet.).
- Boone R. Enterprises, Inc. v. Fox Television Stations, Inc., Paul Adrian and Ernestor Pena, 189 S.W. 3d 795, (Tex. App.-Dallas 2005, no pet.).
- UTV of San Antonio, Inc. d/b/a KMOL-TV v. Ardmore, Inc., 82 S.W.3d 609 (Tex. App. - San Antonio 2002, no pet.).
- Provencio v. Paradigm Media, Inc., d/b/a The Texas Network, 44 S.W.3d 677 (Tex. App. - El Paso 2001, no pet.).
- NW Communications of Texas, Inc., David Christopher and Kay Vinson v. John Power, Individually and d/b/a Brushield Systems of America, 28 Media L. Rep. 2483 (Tex. App. - Dallas 2000, pet. denied).
- Sharp v. Cox Texas Publications, Inc., 943 S.W.2d 206 (Tex. App. - Austin 1997, no writ)
- Memorial Hospital - The Woodlands v. The Honorable F. Scott McCown, 927 S.W.2d 1 (Tex. 1996).
In addition to her private practice, Laura has served as the program attorney for the national television shows Christina's Court and Judge Alex, serves as an adjunct professor at the University of Texas School of Law in Media & Entertainment Law, and was the editor of the E-Copyright Law Handbook published by Aspen Law and Business.
Laura works on legislative initiatives and lobbying as a member of the Texas Association of Broadcasters' Legislative Task Force, the Public Participation Project's National Board of Directors, the General Counsel for the Legislative Advisory Committee of the Texas Daily Newspaper Association and the Texas Press Association, and as a co-chair of the Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas' Legislative Committee. She has also initiated and chairs the Media Libel Resource Center's State Legislative Committee, bringing together lobbyists from virtually every state that works on legislation impacting the media industry and government transparency. Laura has been elected to the National Board of Directors for the Student Press Law Center for the 2011-2013 term.
In May 2009, Texas became the 37th state to enact a reporter's privilege when Gov. Rick Perry signed the Texas Free Flow of Information Act. Laura represented the Texas Daily Newspaper Association, the Texas Press Association, the Texas Association of Broadcasters and the Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas on this issue. She was at the forefront of the efforts to get this law passed since 2005 and 2007. Laura was the chief drafter and negotiator for the Free Flow of Information Act and testified multiple times before various legislative committees in the process of gaining its passage.
Selected Publications and Speeches
- "Newsroom Outlook," panelist, Texas Association of Broadcasters 2013 Legislative Day, January 28, 2013.
- "Anti-SLAPP Laws: Taking the Punch from Defamation Suits," co-author, Media, Privacy and Defamation Law Committee Newsletter, American Bar Association, Spring 2012.
- "How to Get an Anti-SLAPP Statute Passed," speaker, Newspaper Association Managers 2011 Legislative Conference, Washington, D.C., December 5, 2011.
- "Texas Laws that Benefit the Media: Anti-SLAPP, Reporter's Privilege and Interlocutory Appeal," speaker, Texas Association of Broadcasters (TAB) Newsroom Workshop, Southern Methodist University, Dallas, TX, October 29, 2011.
- "Tort Reform in Media Law," speaker, Texas State University's Mass Communication Week, San Marcos, TX, October 18, 2011.
- "Defending Your Newsroom - Using the Anti-SLAPP Law, Free Flow of Information Act and the Interlocutory Appeal," speaker, webinar for the Texas Association of Broadcasters, October 5, 2011.
- "Passage Of The Texas Anti-SLAPP Statute - How It Happened And What It Could Mean For You!" author, Media, Privacy and Defamation Law Committee Newsletter, Fall 2011.
- "Winners & Losers: Scoring the 82nd Legislature," panelist, FOIFT State Conference, Austin, TX, August 12, 2011.
- "FCC Compliance," panelist, FOIFT State Conference, Austin, TX, August 10, 2011.
- "Newspapers Benefit from Anti-SLAPP Law," author, Daily Tribune, July 22, 2011.
- "Texas Newsrooms Will Benefit from Anti-SLAPP Law," author, Texas Daily Newspaper Association e-Bulletin, July 15, 2011.
- "Primer on Texas Anti-SLAPP Statute," author, Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas (FOIFT) website, July 15, 2011.
- "Texas Newsrooms Will Benefit from Anti-SLAPP Law Protecting First Amendment Rights," author, Texas Association of Broadcasters Bulletin, July 11, 2011.
- "Passage of the Texas Anti-SLAPP Statute," author, MLRC Media Law Letter, July 2011.
- "Strategies for Efficiently and Economically Winning a Media Case," co-author, ABA/TIPS Media Newsletter, Spring 2011.
- "Freedom of Information," panelist, Texas Association of Licensed Investigators Mid-Winter Conference, San Antonio, TX, February 18-19, 2011.
- "Hot Issues in Reporter's Privilege and Anti-SLAPP Laws," panelist, ABA Forum on Communications Law 16th Annual Conference, Rancho Mirage, CA, February 3-5, 2011.
- "The Texas Legislative Process: What Every Lawyer Should Know and Transparency in Government," panelist, State Bar of Texas Continuing Legal Education Program, Austin, TX, February 1, 2011.
- "How to Prevent the Sting of a SLAPP," author, Sedgwick's Media Law Bulletin and the website of the Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas, November 2010.
- Reporter's Privilege Compendium, co-author, The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, 2010.
- "Ask an Attorney," speaker, Southwest Broadcast Newsroom Workshop, Austin, Texas, October 16, 2010.
- "Texas Free Flow of Information Act," speaker, Texas Associated Press Managing Editors 2010 Annual Convention, College Station, Texas, March 27, 2010.
- "Hot Issues in Reporters Privilege/Subpoenas," moderator, ABA Forum on Communications Law 15th Annual Conference, Key Largo, FL, January 28-30, 2010.
- "Alternative Billing Arrangements" moderator, Women in Communications Law Committee meeting, ABA Forum on Communications Law 15th Annual Conference, Key Largo, FL, January 28-30, 2010.
- "The Lawful Truth: Discussing Issues in Mass Communication Law," speaker, Association for Women in Communications, Austin, TX, October 21, 2009.
- "Appeals Court Thwarts Attempt to Gut Shield Bill Provision," author, Texas Press Messenger, September 2009.
- "Let the Free Flow of Information Begin - Texas Adopts 'Reporter's Privilege'," author, Texas Press Association's eBulletin, July 2009.
- "Legislative Update on Free Flow Act," Speaker, Texas Press Association Annual Convention, June 19, 2009.
- "Texas Becomes Number 37 in States that have a Reporter's Privilege," author, MLRC Media Law Letter, May 2009.
- "The Television Decency Cases: Are F-Words and Fleeting Expletives Sanctionable?" moderator, American Bar Association Section of Litigation Annual Conference, April 30, 2009.
- "Hot Issues in Subpoenas," speaker, American Bar Annual Conference Forum on Communications Law, Scottsdale, AZ, February 5, 2009.
- "Advancing the Free Flow of Information Act," speaker, Texas Association of Broadcasters Legislative Day on the Free Flow Initiative, Austin, TX, February 2, 2009.
- "Freedom of Information/Open Government Panel," panelist, Texas Associated Press Managing Editor's Legislative Conference, Austin, TX, January 7, 2009.
- "Golly, I Just Got Fined by the FCC Again!" author, Sedgwick's Media Law Bulletin, January 2009.
- "Recent Attempts to Enact State Shield Laws," author, MLRC Committee Report, December 2008.
- "Newsroom Legal Issues / Free Flow of Information Act (FFOIA)," speaker, Southwest Broadcast Newsroom Workshop, Austin, TX, October 4, 2008.
- "What the $#*& is up with the fleeting expletives (and fleeting images)?" speaker on co-authored article, State Bar of Texas - 18th Annual Entertainment Law Institute, October 2-3, 2008.
- "The Journalist's Privilege and Shield Law," speaker, Austin Bench Bar Conference, San Antonio, TX, April 18, 2008.
- "Free Flow of Information," speaker, Texas Daily Newspaper Association's Statewide Convention, Austin, TX, March 11, 2008.
- "Hot Issues in Newsgathering," facilitator, American Bar Association Forum on Communications Law 13th Annual Conference, Boca Raton, FL, February 2008.
- Named one of the top 45 women lawyers in the nation younger than age 45 by The American Lawyer, 2011
- Named to the BTI Client Service All-Stars Team for Law Firms, 2011
- Recipient of the Texas Daily Newspaper Association's Legacy Award, 2010
- Named Associate of the Year by Texas Association of Broadcasters, 2009
- Profiled in Texas Lawyer in "Extraordinary Women in Texas Law," as one of the state's top 30 leading women lawyers, 2008
- Recipient of the Texas Association of Broadcasters' Award of Honor for "Outstanding Efforts in the Continuing Battle to Pass the Texas Free Flow of Information Act" during the 80th Legislature, 2007 Regular Session
- Awarded the Special President's Award by the Texas Association of Broadcasters, 2005
- Selected as a Rising Star in the Legal Field, Austin Business Journal, 2004
- Received the "Austin Under 40 Legal Award," the Austin Young Men's Business League and Austin Young Women's Alliance, 2001
- Chosen as one of the top 10 "Up-and-Comers on the Texas Legal Scene" by Texas Lawyer, 2000
- Martindale Hubbell® Law Directory with a Peer Review Rating of AV® Preeminent™
- American Bar Association
- Forum on Communications Law, former Internet chair
- Litigation magazine, editorial board, 2004-present
- Women in Communications Law Committee, former co-chair
- First Amendment and Media Litigation Committee, co-chair, 2005-2009
- Media Libel Resource Center, chair, State Legislative Committee
- Appointed by governor to State of Texas Personal Privacy Task Force, 2002, currently serves on the Arbitration Working Group appointed by Chairman Todd Hunter
- Texas Association of Broadcasters, Board of Directors, ex-officio member
- Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas, Immediate Past President; Legislative Committee, co-chair
- KLRU public broadcast station, board of directors
- College of the State Bar of Texas
- Travis County Women Lawyer's Association
- Colorado River Foundation, former board member
- Center for Child Protection, former advisory board member
- Leadership Austin, 1998-1999 graduate
Selected Representative Experience
Garza v. Eagle Creek Broadcasting D/B/A KZTV 10; 13-10-00573-CV
Obtained affirmation of summary judgment in a case in which we represented Eagle Creek Broadcasting. The Court upheld the summary judgment on the grounds of substantial truth, limited purpose public figure and no actual malice, and some of the statements were not capable of a defamatory meaning.