Joel Kurtzberg is a member of Cahill Gordon & Reindel LLP's litigation practice group.
Joel’s practice is focused on general commercial litigation with extensive experience in First Amendment/media law, insurance/reinsurance, securities law, and antitrust. He frequently appears on behalf of newspapers, broadcasters, journalists, and others on First Amendment issues and other constitutional matters but has just as regularly appeared on behalf of insurance companies in large coverage and reinsurance disputes and leading companies (and their officers and directors) in securities and antitrust actions. Joel’s legal work has been recognized by the Financial Times and the National Law Journal as being both innovative and effective. In 2016, Joel’s work in the closely-watched case Amarin Pharma Inc., et al. v. Food and Drug Administration, et al. led the Financial Times to rank Cahill as a “Standout” firm in the Changing and Influencing Regulation category of its North American Innovative Lawyers Awards. In 2015, The National Law Journal named Joel to its "Litigation Trailblazers" list, which recognizes fifty top legal professionals in the United States who have changed the practice of litigation through the use of innovative legal strategies. Joel is ranked among New York's top First Amendment litigators by Chambers USA and is recommended nationally as a leading commercial litigator by The Legal 500. Joel is recognized as a "Lawyer of the Year" by Best Lawyers for his work in Litigation - First Amendment Law in New York City as well as being ranked one of New York’s top business litigators by Super Lawyers.
Joel is currently an Adjunct Professor at Brooklyn Law School, where he has taught a class about Mass Media Law. He is also an Adjunct Professor at Fordham University School of Law, where he has co-taught a class about Internet Law that focuses on First Amendment, intellectual property, and privacy issues in cyberspace.
Joel was formerly the Chair of the Media Law Committee for the New York State Bar Association. He was also an editor of the American Bar Association’s First Amendment and Media Litigation Committee Newsletter and has been an active member of the New York State Bar Association’s Media Law Committee, the American Bar Association’s First Amendment and Media Litigation Committee, and the Association of the Bar of the City of New York’s Communications and Media Law Committee. He was elected to be a member of The American Law Institute in 2007.
Joel is also a “coach” for the Brooklyn Tech High School’s mock trial and moot court teams. He has also done a considerable amount of pro bono work with Sanctuary for Families, an organization dedicated to serving victims of domestic violence. In 2018, Sanctuary for Families honored Joel with The Abely Pro Bono Achievement Award which honors individuals who have made a difference in the lives of victims of domestic violence and who embody compassion, zeal, energy and dedication. In 2003, 2014, and 2015, Joel received awards for Excellence in Pro Bono Advocacy from Sanctuary for Families’ Center for Battered Women’s Legal Services. He currently serves as a member of Sanctuary for Families' Legal Advisory Committee. Joel has also been named one of the New York Law Journal's “Lawyers Who Lead by Example” in 2016 in the Pro Bono category for “an outstanding record of providing crucial legal services to poor or nearly poor New Yorkers.”
Between college and law school, Joel spent two years teaching junior high school students in inner city New Orleans through the Teach for America program. Joel joined the Firm in 1997, after completing his clerkship and became a partner in 2005.
Selected First Amendment matters:
- Representation of Amarin Pharma Inc. in a First Amendment challenge of FDA regulations concerning off-label promotion of prescription drugs.
- Representation of newspaper reporter and book author, James Risen, in responding to grand jury and trial subpoenas seeking confidential source information.
- Representation of food manufacturer in challenge to FDA's proposed rule requiring information about added sugars on nutrition labeling.
- Representation of newspaper and magazine reporters in responding to third party subpoenas seeking confidential source information in a criminal investigations directed at the disclosure of Valerie Plame's identity as a CIA operative.
- Representation of cyber-intelligence firm in defamation case concerning Internet advertising.
- Representation of tobacco manufacturer in challenging FDA's proposed graphic warnings in tobacco products labeling.
- Representation of newspaper reporters in responding to third party subpoenas seeking confidential source information as part of a civil Privacy Act case brought by Wen Ho Lee.
- Representation of a leading entertainment company in right of publicity, copyright, and First Amendment dispute over the use of robots alleged to look like actors who played characters of "Norm" and "Cliff" on TV show Cheers.
- Representation of the Brooklyn Museum of Art in its legal battles with Mayor Rudolph Giuliani.
- Representation of leading record companies in wrongful death and unfair business practices dispute concerning whether teenage murder was caused by targeted sales of CDs of the death metal band Slayer to minors.
- Representation of songwriters guild in filing amicus brief in United States Supreme Court defending the constitutionality of the Copyright Term Extension Act.
- Representation of a leading bookseller in criminal prosecution for distribution of child pornography stemming from sale of photography books of renowned art photographers.
- Representation of international media amici in appeal of denial of motion to quash subpoena directed at former Washington Post journalist Jonathan Randal in case of first impression before International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia.
- Representation of a leading broadcasting company in its application for access to televise and/or get faster access to audio recordings of Supreme Court oral argument.
- Representation of tobacco manufacturer, retailers, and retailer associations in various challenges to city and federal laws restricting tobacco advertising.
- Representation of a consortium of small business owners and advertising associations in challenging tobacco advertising restrictions imposed by The City of New York.
Selected Securities matters:
- Representation of Underwriter Defendants in Section 11 litigation concerning alleged misrepresentations and omissions in connection with IPO offering documents.
- Representation of individual officers and directors in financial services industry in Section 10(b)(5) litigation.
Selected Insurance and Reinsurance matters:
- Representation of a major insurance company in $400 million contract dispute with reinsurers.
- Acted as coverage counsel to leading insurance company in $100 million environmental insurance dispute.
- Representation of a leading insurance company in $3 billion-plus fraud dispute concerning disclosure of available insurance in settlement of securities class actions.
Selected Antitrust matters:
- Defense counsel for a financial institution in price fixing case involving the setting of the London Interbank Offered Rate ("LIBOR") for the U.S. Dollar.
- Defense counsel for an offshore marine contractor in bid-rigging claims in U.S. and Europe arising from indictments and guilty pleas of competitor.
- Defense counsel for pharmaceutical company in Hatch-Waxman antitrust litigation accusing company of illegally stalling generic competition for the drug Remeron®.
- Defense counsel for leading fax paper manufacturer in price-fixing case in thermal fax paper industry.
- Defense counsel for a British holding company against antitrust conspiracy charges in multidistrict class action in the payment card industry.
Other Commercial Litigation matters:
- Represented former subprime mortgage originator and servicer in consumer fraud litigation against the Massachusetts Attorney General.
- Represented former subprime mortgage originator in contract dispute with mortgage servicer.