Rachel E. Fugate's Profile Image

Rachel E. Fugate

Rachel Fugate is an experienced litigator and appellate lawyer. She has represented national media companies, local and regional newspapers and television stations, streaming services, book publishers, film producers, reality television programs, artists, and non-profit corporations. Rachel litigates with an emphasis on media, internet and First Amendment disputes. She defends publishers and broadcasters in complex defamation, invasion of privacy, and other content related claims and prosecutes actions for access to government information. As a commercial litigator, Rachel handles a variety of cases, including business torts, statutory causes of action, and breach of contract. As an appellate lawyer, Rachel has appeared before all Florida District Courts of Appeal and has argued matters before the Florida Supreme Court and Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals. With a content-related focus, she has prepared amicus briefs on issues ranging from satire as fair use to the abolishment of false light in Florida and has filed numerous emergency certiorari petitions for access to government records.

Rachel’s practice also concentrates on preventive litigation measures. On a daily basis, she provides newsroom counsel services and advice on a variety of content related issues and publication practices, including newsgathering advice, pre-broadcast and pre-publication review, content clearance, fair use review and analysis, and responses to retraction demands and subpoenas.

Rachel is a member of the American Bar Association’s Forum on Communications Law, where she has served on the Governing Committee and several sub-committees. She is also a member and former Chair of the Media Law Committee of The Florida Bar. Rachel is a past Vice Chair of the American Bar Association’s Section of Individual Rights & Responsibilities First Amendment Committee.


  • JD, magna cum laude, Florida State University, 1998
  • BS, University of Florida, 1995

Bar Admissions

  • Florida
  • U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida
  • U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida
  • U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit


  • Rated AV Preeminent by Martindale-Hubbell
  • Florida Super Lawyers (2014-2023)
  • Florida Super Lawyers Rising Stars (2009-2013)
  • “Band 1” Rating by Chambers USA Guide for Media & Entertainment (2023 - 2024)

Speaking & Media

  • Speaker, Media Lawyers Q&A, Investigative Reporters and Editors National Conference (2023)
  • Quoted or testimony referenced regarding proposed libel legislation in Florida. “Right-Wing Media Splits From DeSantis on Press Protections” (April 2, 2023);  “Bill easing defamation lawsuits against journalists, media outlets heads to final Senate panel” (March 22, 2023);
  • Moderator, First Amendment Follies in Florida: MLRC Latin American Media Law Conference (2023).
  • Lead Facilitator, Hot Issues in Libel & Privacy: ABA Forum on Communications Law 27th Annual Conference (2022)
  • Presenter, Barbarians at the Gate - When you can expect to hear from the media attorneys: FCPIO Professional Education Conference (2022)
  • Interviewed by The Intercept concerning the First Amendment implications of Governor DeSantis’s attacks on Disney. “Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis's Attacks on Disney May Violate First Amendment” (April 23, 2022)
  • Panel Speaker, Different Types of Media and It’s Lawyers: ABA Forum on Communications Law, “How to be a Media Lawyer” Initiative (2021)
  • Panel Speaker, Access: Practicing Law Institute’s Communications Law in the Digital Age (2020)
  • Panel Speaker, Newsgathering and Privacy Liability: Practicing Law Institute’s Communications Law in the Digital Age (2019) 
  • Presenter, Top 10 Reasons You Would Hear From A Media Attorney: FCPIO Professional Education Conference (2019)
  • Panel speaker, Newsgathering and Privacy Liability: Practicing Law Institute’s Communications Law in the Digital Age (2018)
  • Speaker, Copyright/Digital Workshop: Investigative Reporters and Editors National Conference (2018)
  • Panel speaker, Women Charting Their Own Paths in Communications Law: ABA Forum on Communications Law 37th Annual Representing Your Local Broadcaster (2018)
  • Panel speaker, Hot Issues in Reporter’s Privilege: ABA Forum on Communications Law 23rd Annual Conference (2018)
  • Panel speaker, Defamation and Related Claims: Practicing Law Institute’s Communications Law in the Digital Age (2017)
  • Panel speaker, Fake News: Florida Bar Reporter’s Workshop (2017)
  • Speaker, Defamation and Invasion of Privacy: Public Radio and News Directors’ Annual Conference (2017)
  • Quoted by The New York Times regarding the court's order releasing 911 recordings of the Pulse nightclub shooting. "911 Recordings of Gunman During Orlando Nightclub Siege Are Released" (October 31, 2016).
  • Interviewed by WKMG regarding access to University of Central Florida’s coaching contracts. "UCF keeps O'Leary investigation records secret — UCF: Discrimination investigative report is ‘not UCF business'" (October 21, 2015).
  • Quoted by CBS News concerning access issues in the George Zimmerman criminal case. "George Zimmerman Trial: Witnesses must testify publicly, judge rules" (June 6, 2013).
  • Quoted by CNN concerning access to names of jurors from Casey Anthony criminal case. "Should Casey Anthony jurors' names be released?" (July 7, 2011).
  • Interviewed by The New York Times regarding the newspaper’s review of ballots after the 2000 Presidential election. "EXAMINING THE VOTE: THE METHOD; How the Consortium of News Organizations Conducted the Ballot Review" (November 12, 2001).


  • Co-Author, Free Speech in the “Free State,” MLRC Bulletin: Supreme Court and First Amendment Developments (July 2023).
  • Co-Author, Access to Juvenile Records & Proceedings, Reporter’s Handbook, The Florida Bar.
  • Co-Author, Proposed Florida Defamation Legislation, MLRC MediaLawLetter (June 2023)
  • Co-Author, Cloud Over 2004 Hurricane Relief Aid Finally Lifts as Appellate Court Tells FEMA to Hand Over Addresses, MLRC MediaLawLetter (June 2007).
  • Co-Author, Anatomy of a First Amendment Retaliation Claim, MLRC MediaLawLetter (December 2005).
  • Co-Author, CNN Sues Florida for Copy of Suspected Felon List, MLRC MediaLawLetter (June 2004).
  • Author, Choppy Waters are Forecast for Academic Free Speech, 26 Fla. St. U. L. Rev. 187 (1998).
  • Author, The Florida Constitution: Still Protector of Citizens’ Rights?, 25 Fla. St. U. L. Rev. 87 (1997).