Kenneth A. Zirm

Partner | General Counsel


Practice Areas:

Ken is an experienced trial and appellate lawyer with a practice focusing on media and communications law. He has defended reporters whose unpublished work product has been subpoenaed in criminal and civil trials, and litigated numerous major news access and defamation cases involving First Amendment rights. Ken has also defended major media corporations in copyright infringement litigation. Ken also has substantial experience as a law firm administrator. For almost 10 years he served as the firm’s Director of Professional Development, with overall responsibility for the training and professional development of the firm’s young lawyers. In 2016, Ken was named Ulmer & Berne’s General Counsel, where he now serves as the firm’s chief legal officer and principal legal counsel and adviser to the Managing Partner and the Firm’s Management Committee. Ken advises management with respect to the Firm’s major decisions, strategies, and transactions, and provides day-to-day advice and counsel to firm partners and senior administrative staff regarding matters of firm policy, risk management, and professional responsibility matters.

Education & Admissions

Education

  • Bethany College

    (B.A., magna cum laude, 1979)

  • Cleveland-Marshall College of Law

    (J.D., cum laude, 1984)

Admissions

  • State of Ohio
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Third Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Fourth Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit
  • U.S. District Court, Northern District of Ohio
  • U.S. District Court, Southern District of Ohio

Experience

REPRESENTATIVE EXPERIENCE

  • Obtained summary judgment for an alternative newspaper in a defamation and invasion of privacy case brought by a physician and protégé of Dr. Henry Heimlich over an investigative report that called into question the physician’s medical experiences and training. Dismissal sustained on appeal.
  • Defended a Cleveland television station against claims of libel, fraud and invasion of privacy arising out of a hidden camera investigation into furnace repair scams. Jury verdict for the defense sustained on appeal.
  • Obtained summary judgment for Twentieth Century Fox and others in a copyright infringement case brought by an author claiming that her manuscript was the basis for the movie “Titanic.”
  • Defended the Arts and Entertainment Network in a copyright infringement action arising out of the use of the plaintiff’s photographs in an episode of A&E’s “Biography” series. Case voluntarily dismissed by the plaintiff.
  • Obtained dismissal of a libel lawsuit against a weekly newspaper in a case brought by a city council candidate unhappy with published statements about his past employment performance.
  • Defended a Cleveland television station in a libel action brought by a local hotel owner over a series of investigative stories alleging practices of racial discrimination by the owner and his hotel. Jury verdict for the defense sustained on appeal.
  • Obtained the dismissal of a lawsuit filed against an internet service provider seeking to force the disclosure of a content provider’s identity.
  • Defended a national equestrian association in a libel and conspiracy action brought by a renowned horse trainer over an article in the association’s magazine about the trainer’s attempts to have his association suspension overturned by the courts. Summary judgment granted by the federal magistrate and affirmed by the district court judge.

REPORTED CASES

  • Bentkowski v. Scene Magazine, 637 F.3d 689 (6th Cir. 2011)
  • Patrick v. Cleveland Scene Publishing, 2009 U.S. App. LEXIS 27995 (6th Cir)
  • Richard v. WJW TV-8, 33 Media L Rptr. 1774 (Ohio App. 2005)
  • AAA All City Heating, Air Conditioning & Home Improvement v. New World Communications of Ohio, Inc., 2004 Ohio 5591 (Ohio App.)
  • State ex rel New World Communications of Ohio, Inc. v. Character, 100 Ohio App. 3d 773 (1995)
  • Rogers v. Buckel, 83 Ohio App 3d 653 (1992)
  • Collins v. Storer Communications, 65 Ohio App 3d 443 (1989)
  • Perk v. Readers Digest Ass’n., 931 F. 2d 408 (6th Cir. 1991)

Publications & Presentations

Presentations

  • Lectures before students on the meaning and importance of the Bill of Rights and has spoken before both journalists and lawyers on access, news gathering and libel issues.

Involvement

PROFESSIONAL AFFILIATIONS
  • American Bar Association (Member, Forum on Communications Law)
  • Ohio State Bar Association (Member, Media Law Committee)
  • Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association

COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT

  • Big Brothers, Big Sisters of Greater Cleveland (Board of Directors)
FIRM INVOLVEMENT 
  • Management Committee
  • General Counsel Committee
  • Security and Technology Advisory Board
  • Employment Committee