Laura Lee Prather is a partner in the Litigation Practice Group in the Austin office of Haynes and Boone, LLP. Laura focuses her practice on First Amendment, intellectual property and media and entertainment litigation and appeals. She has significant government relations experience as an advocate at the Texas Legislature on First Amendment and open government concerns. Laura advises 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 through anti-SLAPP motions and summary judgment - oftentimes without the expense of discovery. She has also had tremendous success in obtaining reimbursement of fees for her clients. For this, she was recognized in 2011 as a BTI Client Service All-Star.
Laura was the lead author and negotiator for the three most significant pieces of First Amendment legislation in recent history in Texas - the reporters' privilege, the anti-SLAPP statute, and the Defamation Mitigation Act. Through her efforts, Laura both formed and led the coalitions in support of all three of these measures, making Texas the 37th state to pass a reporters’ privilege, the 28th state to adopt an anti-SLAPP statute, and the 32nd state to enact a retraction statute. All three laws are designed to promote and protect free speech rights in Texas.
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 First Amendment rights, defending media companies in cases involving reporting on matters of public concern, and defending entertainment companies in theft of idea, trademark and copyright infringement litigation. 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."
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 also started and was the inaugural chair of 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.
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
- “Hear Me Roar: The Propriety of Internet Reviews and Comments, Texas Lawyer,” August 5, 2015.
- Laura Lee Prather and Justice Jane Bland, Bullies Beware: Safeguarding Constitutional Rights Through Anti-SLAPP in Texas, 47 TEX. TECH L. REV. 725 (Summer 2015)
- “Open Government Panel,” Speaker, Texas State Bar Annual Convention, San Antonio, Texas, June 19, 2015.
- “Developments in Texas Media Law During the 2015 Session,” Law360, June 17, 2015.
- “Developments in Open Government After the 84th Legislature.” Capital Tonight, TWC News, Austin, TX, June 11, 2015
- “Legislature Praised by Open Records and Free Speech Advocates,” San Antonio Express News, June 5, 2015.
- “Major Newsgathering Wins in 84th Texas Legislature,” TAB Newsletter, June 4, 2015.
- “’Sine Die’ 2015 Texas Legislative Session wrap-up,” Law360, June 2015.
- “Texas Governor Signs Law Protecting Reporting on Whistleblower Allegations,” AUSTIN Legal News, June 2, 2015.
- “Texas Supreme Court Hands Down its First Rulings on the State’s Anti-SLAPP Statute,” TAB Newsletter, May 4, 2015.
- “In the Wake of Neely v. Wilson, the Texas Legislature is on Course to Adopt the Third Party Allegation Rule as Law,” MLRC MediaLawLetter, April 2015.
- “High Court Grants Review in Anti-SLAPP Case,” Texas Lawyer, March 23, 2015.
- “Do You Want Open Government?” The Austin Bulldog, March 19, 2015.
- “Commercial Threats to Freedom of Speech Online,” Speaker, 2015 SXSW Interactive Festival, Austin, Texas, March 13-17, 2015.
- “Transparency and Open Government in the Legislative Session,” Capital Tonight, TWC News, Austin, TX, March 10, 2015.
- “Hot Issues in Anti-SLAPP Laws” ABA Forum on Communications Law Annual Conference, panelist, Scottsdale, Arizona, February 5-7, 2015.
- “The Texas Legislative Session: bills for journalists to love and hate,” Texas Press Association E-Newsletter, February 2015.
- "A Busy Year For Anti-SLAPP Litigation And Legislation," co-author, Law360, December 18, 2014.
- "Defamation Law: How to Safely Publish the News," Speaker, National Newspaper Association's 128th Annual Convention and Trade Show, San Antonio, Texas, October 2-5, 2014.
- "Ask an Attorney," Speaker, Texas Association of Broadcasters Southwest Journalism Workshop, Austin, Texas, September 20, 2014.
- "A Victory For State Anti-SLAPP Laws," Law360, July 16, 2014.
- "Texas Court Affirms Dismissal of Libel Case Against New York Times," Media Law Research Center, April 1, 2014.
- "NYT Gets Defamation Suit Over Firebomb Plot Nixed," Law360, February 28, 2014.
- "Hot Issues in Anti-SLAPP Laws," panelist, ABA Forum on Communications Law 19th Annual Conference, Aventura, Florida, February 8, 2014.
- "Texas Newsroom Legal Toolbox," Speaker, Texas Association of Broadcasters, Austin, Texas, August 21, 2013.
- "Eye on the Lege," panelist, Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas Annual State Conference, Austin, Texas, August 9, 2013.
- "Anti-SLAPP laws," Speaker, American Legislative Exchange Council, 40th Annual Meeting, August 8, 2013.
- "A Trifecta Of 1st-Amendment Advances in Texas," Law360, July 29, 2013.
- "The New Defamation Mitigation Act – How it Affects Texas Newsrooms," TABulletin, July 1, 2013.
- "Open Government Seminar," panelist, State Bar of Texas Annual Meeting June 21, 2013.
- "New Laws Protecting Texas Newsrooms," Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas website, June 2013.
- "Anti-SLAPP Update: Texas' Citizen Participation Act Gets Stronger," Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas website, June 21, 2013.
- "Texas Adopts the Defamation Mitigation Act," Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas website, June 21, 2013.
- "FOI Report," panelist, Texas Associated Press Managing Editors Annual Convention, April 7, 2013.
- "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 Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas website, 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.