UCI Law School Adjunct Professor Susan E. Seager Honored by the LA Press Club With Award for Contributions to Press Freedom


Adjunct Prof. Susan Seager

IRVINE, Calif. (June 21, 2022) — The University of California, Irvine is delighted to announce Susan Seager will receive the Guardian Award for Contributions to Press Freedom on June 25 at the Los Angeles Press Club's 64th Annual Journalism Awards Dinner in Los Angeles.

Professor Seager won the award for her work leading the Press Freedom Project, a program within the UCI Law Intellectual Property, Arts, and Technology Clinic, that provides free legal services for independent journalists, documentary filmmakers, news photographers and press advocacy groups. It is the only law clinic practice of its kind on the West Coast. The Press Freedom Project receives support from The Legal Clinic Fund.

"I feel honored to provide legal help to all the brave independent journalists in California who work without the safety net of big media," Susan Seager stated. "Independent journalists play a vital role in protecting our democracy by fearlessly reporting on important issues, from police brutality to the newest waves of fascists, white supremacists and religious nationalists."

“This award could not be more richly deserved,” said Professor Jack Lerner, director of the UCI Intellectual Property, Arts, and Technology Clinic. “Professor Seager’s work has been of incalculable value not just to independent journalists across California, but to the dozens of law students with whom she has worked and to the cause of government accountability more generally. It is wonderful that her accomplishments are being celebrated in this way."

In four years, Seager has led the Press Freedom Project providing legal assistance to a variety of clients on an array of projects, including the following:

  • Filed several successful motions to unseal hundreds of pages of juvenile court records on behalf of independent journalist Garrett Therolf at the UC Berkeley School of Graduate Journalism’s Investigative Reporting Project, who used the court records for his co-produced Netflix television documentary series, “The Trials of Gabriel Fernandez,” to report about the failure of the Los Angeles county child welfare system to protect children from fatal abuse in 2020.
  • Filed successful lawsuit against the county of Los Angeles to win disclosure of nearly 10 years of records of settled misconduct lawsuits against Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department and District Attorney’s Office on behalf of Prison Legal News
  • Submitted successful requests for internal investigative records from Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office and South Pasadena Police Department concerning fatal police shooting of Stand and Deliver and ER actor Vanessa Marquez during her mental health crisis in her apartment, including extensive bodycam footage, on behalf of Los Angeles documentary filmmaker Cyndy Fujikawa, who is finalizing documentary film about the shooting. 
  • Advised LA Press Club and other journalist groups in their successful push for passage of California SB 98, which allows journalists to remain in place while covering protests and other public events after police declare unlawful assembly and order protesters to disperse.

More about Susan Seager

Susan Seager is an Adjunct Professor of Law and head of the Press Freedom Project at the Intellectual Property, Arts, and Technology Clinic. Professor Seager worked for more than a decade as a journalist in Southern California before starting law school at age 40 as a mother of two small children. She earned her law degree at Yale Law School and returned to Los Angeles to work as a media defense attorney at the law firm of Davis Wright Tremaine and later as an in-house lawyer at Fox Entertainment Group in Century City. She is married to Alan Mittelstaedt, an associate professor at the University of Southern California Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism.

About The Press Freedom Project

The Press Freedom Project, opened in 2018 as part of UCI Law’s Intellectual Property, Arts, and Technology Clinic, pairs law students with journalists to provide various types of legal services, and is the only law clinic with a practice dedicated to helping print, online, and audio journalists on the West Coast. Headed by nationally known First Amendment and media law specialist Susan Seager, the Press Freedom team provides free legal services to empower local, independent, and diverse journalists, bloggers, podcasters, photojournalists, media organizations, and others who are engaged in enterprise journalism and investigative reporting.

The Legal Clinic Fund for Local News, a collaborative fund to support the growth and sustainability of university-based clinics across the United States, was founded on the belief that access to legal support is a critical element of local news ecosystems. The Fund provides legal support to local newsrooms and journalists that seek to advance and defend first amendment rights, media freedom, and transparency in their communities.

About the University of California, Irvine School of Law

The University of California, Irvine School of Law is a visionary law school that provides an innovative and comprehensive curriculum, prioritizes public service, and demonstrates a commitment to diversity within the legal profession. UCI Law students have completed more than 135,000 hours of pro bono work since 2009. Forty-seven percent of UCI Law’s J.D. graduates are people of color. At UCI Law, we are driven to improve our local, national, and global communities by grappling with important issues as scholars, as practitioners, and as teachers who are preparing the next generation of leaders. The collaborative and interdisciplinary community at UCI Law includes extraordinary students, world-renowned faculty, dedicated staff, engaged alumni and enthusiastic supporters. More information on UCI Law is available here. Please follow us on Twitter @UCILaw and Facebook @UCIrvineLaw.