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Paul R. McAdoo

Special Counsel

Finding the path to a solution takes creativity and practicality. I always take clients’ interests to heart and ensure their voices are heard.

Paul McAdoo is an experienced litigator and counselor who has a long history of dealing with complex legal issues. Paul has worked extensively on media law, First Amendment, open government, copyright, trademark and complex business litigation matters. He began his career in Florida before moving to Michigan and then to Tennessee in 2015.

Paul immerses himself in every aspect of litigation from trial preparation to the appellate process. He helps clients strategize and customizes his approach for each client and situation.

Throughout his career, Paul has worked with clients on notable high-profile cases. Paul was part of the litigation team in NCAA v. AP, 18 So. 3d 1201 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 2009) that successfully argued that NCAA records, provided to Florida State University as part of an NCAA investigation appeal, were public records under Florida law, despite the disparate constitutional and statutory defenses raised, including the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). While in Michigan, in one of Paul’s most significant cases, he sued the University of Michigan Board of Regents under both Michigan’s Open Meetings Act and its constitution for closed meetings held by the governing body.

Since coming to Tennessee, Paul has also been active as the author of amicus briefs on behalf of three different coalitions of media entities, including in the Tennessee Supreme Court’s Funk v. Scripps Media, Inc. and Burke v. Sparta Newspapers, Inc. cases, both of which deal with the fair report privilege, and the Tennessee Court of Appeals’ Scripps Media, Inc. v. Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services case involving the scope of Tennessee’s criminal investigative exemption to its public records law.

Paul’s extensive experience includes defamation, invasion of privacy, tortious interference, commercial misappropriation and other tort cases. He defends journalists who have been subpoenaed to testify, helps them (and other citizens) gain access to public records and meetings, and works with journalists in both print and broadcast media on pre-publication and pre-broadcast review. Paul was part of the team that worked on the Reporter’s Committee for Freedom of the Press’s hotline for journalists who encountered legal issues related to the 2012 GOP National Convention in Tampa.

Given his in-depth knowledge and experience in free speech and media law, Paul serves as a resource for local and national media organizations on these issues. He consulted with Salon.com regarding Mitt Romney’s comment about the percentage of Americans who pay no income tax, which drew vast media attention and commentary. Paul also provided comments to a Florida newspaper regarding the outcome of a defamation trial involving two local shock jocks.

In addition to representing the media, Paul represents individuals and businesses in copyright and trademark issues, trademark registration matters before the USPTO, and business disputes.

Paul is a frequent author on legal issues. Paul authored the cover story for the May 2018 edition of the Tennessee Bar Journal, “The Right to Know: Sixth Circuit Sends Clear Message on Tough Standard for Sealing Judicial Records.” Paul is also a frequent contributor to the Media Law Resource Center’s MediaLawLetter. Among Paul’s other publications are “FERPA’s Directly Related vs. Tangentially Related Dichotomy,” with Carol LoCicero, in the ABA Tort Trial & Insurance Practice Section’s Media, Privacy, and Defamation Law Committee Newsletter. Paul was also the co-author of the “Eleventh Circuit Update” for the Media Law Resource Center’s Media Libel Law publication from 2010 to 2013.

In addition to his writing, Paul has presented on media law topics to groups ranging from the Tennessee Bar Association and Society of Professional Journalists (Middle Tennessee Chapter) to the Florida Press Association and the Hillsborough County Bar Association Leadership Institute, in addition to client seminars at newspapers and television stations. Paul also served as an adjunct professor in the College of Media and Entertainment at Middle Tennessee State University, teaching Mass Media Law from 2017 to 2018.

Paul is an active member of the legal community both locally and on the national level. Paul currently serves at the Chair of the Tennessee Bar Association’s Communications Law Sections Executive Committee. In 2019, Paul spearheaded the inaugural Tennessee Bar Association and Tennessee Association of Broadcasters Reporters Workshop. Twelve journalists from Tennessee were selected from a pool of applicants to attend this two-day event in Nashville, which featured numerous panels and discussions on a variety of media law issues. In addition to organizing and overseeing the running of the workshop, Paul moderated a panel entitled “An Inside Look at Investigative Journalism,” featuring representatives of the Knoxville News Sentinel, News Channel 5 in Nashville and News 4 in Nashville. Paul also chaired the Tennessee Bar Association’s Fourth Estate Award committee in 2019 after being a member of the committee in 2018.

Nationally, Paul is active in both the ABA Forum on Communications Law and the Media Law Resource Center. Most recently, Paul was co-chair of the ABA Forum on Communications Law’s Training and Development Committee for which he helped organize the Media Advocacy workshop for young lawyers and law students seeking to hone their oral advocacy skills.

Paul earned his J.D. at the University of Florida Fredric G. Levin College of Law, where he was a member of the Willem C. Vis International Commercial Arbitration Moot Court that competed in Vienna, Austria. During law school, he co-authored an article in the William Mitchell Law Review with Dr. Anthony Fargo from the Indiana University Media School, “Common Law or Shield Law: How Rule 501 Could Solve the Journalist’s Privilege Problem.” Paul completed his undergraduate studies at Florida State University, where he majored in history and international affairs.

Education

  • University of Florida Frederic G. Levin College of Law, J.D., 2006, cum laude
  • Florida State University, 1993, History and International Affairs

Bar Admissions

  • Tennessee
  • Florida
  • Michigan

Court Admissions

  • United States District Court for the Northern District of Florida
  • United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida
  • United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida
  • United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan
  • United States District Court for the Western District of Michigan
  • United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit
  • United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit

Acknowledgements

  • Florida Rising Stars® (by Thomson Reuters) 2010-2019

Professional Affiliations & Memberships

  • Harry Phillips Inn of Court, Barrister, 2019 to date
  • Tennessee Bar Association Communications Law Section Executive Committee, Chair, 2018 to date; Vice-Chair, 2017–2018; Member, 2015 to date
  • Tennessee Bar Association, Fourth Estate Award Committee, Chair, 2019 to date; Member, 2017–2018
  • Media Law Resource Center, Defense Counsel Section, Member, 2016 to date
  • ABA Forum on Communications Law’s Training and Development Committee, Co-Chair, 2013-2015, Vice-Chair, 2010-2013
  • ABA Tort Trial and Insurance Practice Section’s Media, Privacy, and Advertising committee, Vice Chair, 2011-2014, 2017-2018
  • The Florida Bar Reporter’s Workshop, Co-Chair, 2011