Karl Olson specializes in defending news media clients and individuals against defamation and 'SLAPP suits' (Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation). He has successfully defended dozens of such cases in his 27-year legal career, disposing of most of them at a very early stage and obtaining sanctions or fee awards against the plaintiffs in many such cases. He has also successfully handled numerous battles for access to public records under the California Public Records Act, including a successful lawsuit recently decided by the California Supreme Court involving access to public employee salaries.
He is considered one of the foremost experts on California's anti-SLAPP statute and has been actively engaged in litigation, commentary and legislation relating to the statute. He has written amicus curiae briefs for California newspapers and the California Newspaper Publishers Association in many of the anti-SLAPP cases decided by the California Supreme Court. His clients include the Contra Costa Times, the Sacramento Bee and The Recorder.
Karl has recently successfully pursued several media access to public records cases. He successfully represented the Contra Costa Times in a lawsuit against the City of Oakland to obtain public employee salary information, winning a landmark California Supreme Court opinion. (IFPTE v. Superior Court (2007) 42 Cal. 4th 319. He also represented the Contra Costa Newspaper Group against the California Department of Health Services ("Newspaper Gets Access to Discipline Records"), winning access to records on employees disciplined by the Department and obtaining an award of attorney's fees for his client.
He represented the San Francisco Chronicle and won access to the grand jury transcripts related to the indictment of a former political powerhouse ("Lawyers Tangle Over Sealing of Transcript in criminal case") and represented the San Francisco Chronicle in a lawsuit against the California Department of Real Estate to obtain consumer complaints against a realtor. (Order)
Karl also represented the California First Amendment Coalition and, before that, the San Jose Mercury News in obtaining access to investment records of the California Public Employees Retirement System (CalPERS) ("Mercury News Wins Fight Over Venture Data".) He also represented the Coalition of University Employees in a successful lawsuit against the University of California to obtain access to its venture capital performance returns.
Karl's media law practice also focuses on pre-publication counseling; public and press access to court records and governmental proceedings; intellectual property matters such as copyright and trademark infringement claims; and trade secret litigation. He has authored numerous articles on media law issues and lectured widely on defamation and First Amendment topics for both professional journalists and lawyers.
Karl won the 2005 James Madison award for legal counsel from the Northern California Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists and was featured in a front-page article in San Francisco's Daily Journal, "Attorney Who Advocates for Public Access Wins Praise" (March 16, 2005).
He has been named a "Northern California SuperLawyer" in the media/First Amendment field by San Francisco Magazine for the last four years and was recognized for Media & Entertainment Litigation in the 2004, 2005. 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009 editions of Chambers USA: America's Leading Business Lawyers.
His practice also includes consumer class action litigation; employment law; and other commercial litigation matters. He has extensive experience in both the trial and appellate courts.
He is admitted to practice in the Supreme Court of the United States, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, the U.S. District Courts for the Northern, Eastern and Central Districts of California, and in the state of California. He has been a co-chair of the Bench-Bar-Media Committee of the San Francisco Bar Association and served two stints as a member of the governing committee of the ABA Forum on Communications Law.
Karl graduated with high honors from the University of California's Hastings College of the Law in San Francisco in 1982 and served as an articles editor for the Hastings Law Journal. From 1982 to 1983, he was a research attorney for Justice Joseph Grodin of the California Supreme Court. He worked as an associate at Morrison & Foerster from 1983 to 1986, and from 1986 to 1997, Karl worked as an associate, then a partner, at Cooper, White & Cooper, before founding Levy, Ram, & Olson in 1997 and Ram & Olson in 2009.
Karl was born, raised and still lives in San Francisco.
He can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org.