Robert A. Bertsche
Robert A. Bertsche is devoted to protecting and strengthening his clients’ ability to communicate their content on a wide variety of platforms, including digital, interactive, print, electronic, and social media.
A media and First Amendment lawyer with a national practice, Rob offers counseling and litigation services to media clients throughout the United States, including magazines, newspapers, book publishers, broadcasters, website operators, bloggers, filmmakers, and advertising and public relations agencies.
Rob’s media practice includes:
- Defending media clients in state and federal court against claims of libel, invasion of privacy, copyright and trademark infringement, commercial appropriation, breach of contract, and related actions.
- Conducting prepublication and pre-broadcast review for magazines, newspapers, websites, broadcasters, and advertisers
- Advising artists, photographers, and writers on copyright and fair use law
- Negotiating and drafting freelance and other media contracts
- Conducting workplace trainings to help the media stay out of court
- Prosecuting access challenges under federal and state law
- Helping clients draft and enact policies relating to social media, confidential sources, ethics, blogging, and data privacy
- Defending reporters against subpoenas seeking confidential sources or notes
- Assessing website compliance with state and federal regulatory requirements
- Designing and drafting rules for sweepstakes, contests, and other promotions
Rob’s clients range from the multinational publishing company to the solitary blogger, from the television talk-show host to the cartoonist, and from the documentary filmmaker to the community newspaper publisher. Much of Rob’s day-to-day work involves protecting his clients from litigation. A former newspaper and magazine journalist, he is dedicated to helping journalists practice their craft aggressively and responsibly, without courting undue legal risk. He has conducted prepublication review of thousands of newspaper and magazine articles, as well as non-fiction books on politics, business, ethics, and even cooking. He has also served as legal counsel to documentary filmmakers.
Rob plays an active role in the journalism community. As outside general counsel to the New England Newspaper and Press Association, he established and oversees an active legal hotline for the 300-plus community newspapers that are NENPA members. Since 2002, the New York-based American Society of Magazine Editors has selected Rob to provide its annual business and editorial law training for staff of print and online publications alike.
Rob has served as an adjunct professor in communication and media law at Boston College and Tufts University, and is a frequent guest speaker to journalism classes at Northeastern University, Emerson College, Boston University, and elsewhere. For more than 20 years, he has authored the annual survey of First Circuit libel law published by the New York-based Media Law Resource Center. He also writes the outline of Massachusetts public access law published by the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press.
In his employment practice, Rob counsels employers on issues including terminations, sexual harassment, wage and hour laws, and independent contractor status. He also regularly represents educational institutions in employment, disciplinary, and intellectual property matters.
Rob has defended businesses in state and federal court, and at the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (including in public hearings), against harassment, discrimination, retaliation, defamation, breach of contract, wrongful discharge and other common-law and statutory claims. His annually-updated survey of Massachusetts employment libel law is distributed nationwide by Oxford University Press.
Rob was an associate, then partner, at the Boston law firm of Hill & Barlow for 13 years until it closed in 2003. Before attending law school, he worked as city editor of the daily Transcript-Telegram newspaper in Holyoke, Massachusetts, attended the Radcliffe Publishing Procedures Course in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and was an editor on the founding staff of New England Monthly magazine, which twice won the National Magazine Award for General Excellence.
- United States Supreme Court
- United States Court of Appeals for the First, Second, and Third Circuits
- United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts, Southern District of New York, and Eastern District of Pennsylvania
- Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, and Pennsylvania
- Harvard Law School, J.D., magna cum laude, 1989
- Radcliffe Publishing Procedures Course, 1986
- Wesleyan University, B.A., magna cum laude, 1980
- AV® Preeminent™ Peer Review Rated
- Listed in The Best Lawyers in America, New England’s Best Lawyers, and Boston's Best Lawyers (Woodward/White)in the fields of Communications Law, Media Law, First Amendment Law, and Litigation - First Amendment (2005-present)
- Recognized as a "Massachusetts Super Lawyer" in the area of First Amendment/Media/Advertising (2005-present)
- Named a top-rated intellectual property attorney by Martindale-Hubbell in American Legal Media’s publication of Top Rated Lawyers: Intellectual Property (2012)
- Robert B. Fraser Award for Pro Bono Excellence, from Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts of Massachusetts (2011)
- American Bar Association
- American Bar Foundation (Fellow)
- Boston Bar Association
- Copyright Society
- Litigation Counsel of America (Fellow)
- Massachusetts, New York, and Pennsylvania Bar Associations
- Massachusetts Bar Foundation (Oliver Wendell Holmes Fellow)
- National Newspaper Association
- Media Law Resource Center
- New England First Amendment Coalition (board member and chair of nominations committee)
- New England Media Law Group (founder)
- New England Newspaper and Press Association (outside general counsel)
- New England Society of Professional Journalists (advisory board)
- Online Media Legal Network, Digital Media Law Project, Berkman Center, Harvard University (panel attorney)
- Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press
- Student Press Law Center, National Advisory Committee
- Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts of Massachusetts (panel attorney)