The Media Freedom and Information Access Clinic (MFIA) is a law student clinic dedicated to increasing government transparency, defending the essential work of news gatherers, and protecting freedom of expression by providing pro bono legal services, pursuing impact litigation and developing policy initiatives.
Mission & History
MFIA is a program of the Abrams Institute for Freedom of Expression at Yale Law School. The clinic’s dual missions are to support robust investigative journalism in the digital age and to advance the public’s right of access to information needed for democracy to function.
MFIA was established in 2009 by four Yale Law School students who recognized that the migration of investigative reporting from newspapers, network news departments and other traditional news organizations to online websites, blogs, and other start-up operations, was leaving many journalists without access to the legal services needed for effective reporting, and that the settled legal principles protecting our robust and independent press would need to be re-established for these journalists in very different digital contexts. They also recognized that the ongoing disruption of the news industry was leaving many legacy media companies unable to afford to pursue the type of routine access litigation that is essential to newsgathering, or to fight vigorously the efforts by governments and others to unmask sources and prevent whistleblowing.
Since its founding, MFIA has provided pro bono representation to a diverse array of clients on matters addressing fundamental principles of transparency, free speech, and press freedom. Our clients have included independent journalists, start-up and established news organizations, public interest organizations, activists, academic researchers, and others. We have litigated gag orders, defended libel claims and pursued scores of access lawsuits, including both cases brought under the Freedom of Information Act and cases seeking to extend and enforce the First Amendment right of access.
Our practice is largely focused in the state and federal courts of Connecticut, New York, and the District of Columbia, although the clinic has represented clients in many other parts of the country, from Massachusetts to Arizona, and Florida to Nebraska.