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10 Questions to a Media Lawyer: Cameron Stracher

Cameron Stracher is a solo practitioner in New York City. Previously, he was General Counsel of American Media, publisher of Us Weekly, In Touch, Life & Style, Star, OK!, and the National Enquirer.

1. How'd you get into media law? What was your first job?

My very first job was at Covington & Burling in Washington, D.C., where I lasted just about a year doing white collar criminal defense work (with Chuck Ruff) and ERISA litigation (don't ask). I quit to get an MFA in fiction writing from the Iowa Writers' Workshop (where I met my wife), but when I graduated, I realized I was unemployed. I moved back to New York, wrote my first book at five in the morning, and did securities litigation for 18 months. Finally, I got a break when CBS took pity on a young attorney with no media law background to handle its general litigation, and from there I wormed my way upward.

2. What do you like most about your job? What do you like least?

As someone who appreciates a good editor, I like helping clients figure out how to publish what they want to publish while minimizing the legal risk. I've also done more transactional work in the last ten years, and that's very rewarding because you get to put something together rather than tearing it apart for clients who are doing creative work.

I really dislike the burdens that electronic discovery has placed on all of us.

3. What's the biggest blunder you've committed on the job?

Ha! I'm not going to tell you that.

4. Highest court you've argued in or most high profile case?

For better or for worse, I was recently involved in defending American Media against civil claims brought by Karen McDougal and in related proceedings before the Federal Election Commission and in the Southern District of New York. I also assisted in managing the PR fallout from those matters. Let's just say it was an exhausting couple of years, although I'm truly glad I had the experience.

5. What's a surprising object in your office?

It may not be that surprising, but I always have a gym bag lying around with a pair of running shoes and clean running clothes ready to go in case I can sneak in a quick run during the workday. I have a framed copy of an article from the Staten Island Advance with a photo of me racing against Bill Rodgers for inspiration when I need it.

6. Favorite sources for news – legal or otherwise?

I admire all the work of all my clients! But I really admire the way the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, CNN, the Washington Post, and the New Yorker have been taking on the Trump administration.

7. It's almost a cliché for lawyers to tell those contemplating law school: "Don't go." What do you think?

I have two children who are both considering law school, and I wouldn't discourage either of them. Although I was very unhappy in my early years as a lawyer, and have written critically about the misery of young lawyers (and law students), I really enjoy my job now, and consider myself very fortunate. I've told my son and daughter that if there's an area of law they're truly interested in, and aren't applying to law school simply because they feel pressured to do it, they should go. I have a feeling they both will.

8. Favorite fictional lawyer?

I'm biased because Adam Wright, the protagonist in my novel, The Curve, is a law professor. Because I birthed him, he's my favorite.

9. What issue keeps you up at night?

Now that I have my own practice, I worry about making payroll! But when I'm not checking my bank balance, I worry that non-fiction television programming (f/k/a "reality TV") will kill the First Amendment protections afforded to journalists. I think we've been pretty successful in convincing the courts they shouldn't draw distinctions between "news" and "entertainment," but I also think the more we push that envelope, the more reluctance we're going to get from the judiciary, until we end up with some bad case law we will regret.

10. What would you have done if you hadn't been a lawyer?

I would have written more books!

 
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