Joe Terry is Co-Chair of Williams & Connolly’s First Amendment practice group.  He focuses his practice on complex, high-stakes litigation and has extensive experience representing media companies. Joe was selected for inclusion in the 2013 through 2019 editions of Washington, D.C. Super Lawyers and was recognized as a “Future Star” by Benchmark Litigation for both 2010 and 2011.

Raised in Fairbanks, Alaska and Seattle, Washington, Joe was recruited to Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois to join the school’s college debate team.  He graduated with departmental honors in 1996, after twice winning the college National Debate Tournament.  He attended law school at the University of Chicago, where he served on the law review, won the school’s annual moot court competition, and graduated with honors.  After clerking for a year in Lousiana, for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, Joe joined Williams & Connolly in 2000.      

Throughout his career at Williams & Connolly, Joe has represented media companies, financial services companies and executives, public officials and public accounting and law firms in a wide variety of civil and criminal litigation, including trials and arbitrations.

Joe has represented clients in federal and state trial courts throughout the country and before the U.S. Courts of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit, 4th Circuit, 5th Circuit, 9th Circuit, the District of Columbia Circuit, and the U.S. Supreme Court. 

Joe is a founding member of the Board of Directors of the Washington Urban Debate League, a not-for-profit dedicated to supporting interscholastic debate in Washington, D.C.-area public schools.

Representative Experience

Though all cases vary and none is predictive, Joe’s experience includes:

  • The successful defense of Fox News in a defamation action brought by a former contributor.
  • The successful defense of Fox News in multiple defamation suits brought by individuals who had entered into workplace-related settlements with a commentator and who objected to public comments made about those settlements.
  • Ongoing defense of Fox News in litigation relating to coverage of the murder of Seth Rich.
  • Trial defense, through settlement, of ABC News against libel and product disparagement claims by the producers of “lean finely textured beef.”
  • Representations of media companies in non-public retraction demand matters or threatened litigation regarding coverage.
  • Representation of a Fortune 500 media corporation that was the target of a highly-publicized FCPA investigation by the Department of Justice and SEC.  The investigation was closed without settlement, charges, or an enforcement action.  
  • Obtaining a complete defense victory for a Big Four accounting firm in a multi-hundred-million-dollar accounting malpractice arbitration.
  • Obtaining summary judgment for a major accounting firm accused of professional malpractice.
  • Obtaining a dismissal on behalf of a multinational media company in the only civil litigation brought in the United States regarding the phone hacking controversy involving UK tabloids.
  • Criminal defense of Senator Ted Stevens on charges that he made false statements on federal disclosure forms.  Senator Stevens was ultimately exonerated on all counts following the revelation that the prosecution withheld key evidence that undermined its principal theory of the case.  The American Lawyer described Williams & Connolly’s work on the case as “one of the best criminal defense performances in memory, resulting in a heightened scrutiny of prosecutors that will affect the Justice Department for years to come.”  
  • Defense of former New York Stock Exchange Chairman and CEO Richard A. Grasso in the highly publicized civil action brought by New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer challenging the reasonableness of Mr. Grasso’s compensation.  After a four-year battle that reached New York’s highest court, all counts against Mr. Grasso were dismissed. 
  • Lead counsel in the representation of a multi-billion-dollar asset manager in an arbitration concerning a non-compete dispute with a former partner.
  • Lead counsel in the defense of a chain of for-profit trade schools accused of fraud and deceptive trade practices.
  • Lead trial counsel in the pro bono defense of an individual charged with first degree attempted murder.  The jury acquitted the defendant of first degree attempted murder and hung on all remaining charges but theft of over $500.



"Legal Lion," Law360, March 2019

Selected to Super Lawyers, 2013-2019

“Future Star,” Benchmark Litigation, 2010-2011


Other Government Service

Law Clerk, Judge W. Eugene Davis, United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, 1999-2000

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