Columbia Journalism School
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  • Tim Wu, right, lectured about political corruption and the First Amendment.
  • Tim Wu talks with students at the reception after the lecture.
  • Tim Wu talks with students at the reception after the lecture.
  • Wu_1
  • Tim Wu, right, lectured about political corruption and the First Amendment.

The Poliak Center

The Poliak Center for the Study of First Amendment Issues was established in 1983 through the generosity of Saul Poliak '26 and Janice Poliak.

The center's programs and activities have been instrumental in making the First Amendment a core subject in the school's curriculum, as well as in educating and informing journalists, media executives, government officials and the general public on issues related to the freedom of the press.

The Poliak Center provides sponsorship for two named professorships:

  • The William J. Brennan Jr. Visiting Professor of First Amendment Issues, a chair named after the late Supreme Court justice, is now held by George Freeman.

  • The James Madison Visiting Professor on First Amendment Issues is now held by Giannina Segnini.

Programs organized by the Poliak Center include The First Amendment Breakfast Series and an annual Poliak Lecture, which pertains to First Amendment issues.

Fall 2015 Poliak Lecturer: Mark Stephens


Specialising in International, Appellate and Complex litigation, Constitutional, Human Rights, IP, Media & Regulatory work, defamation, privacy, media, art and cultural property, data protection and freedom of information, intellectual property and international arbitration, Mark Stephens has undertaken some of the highest profile cases in the country and abroad.

In 2011 Her Majesty the Queen appointed Stephens Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) for his services to law and the arts.

Mark is also extremely active in many other areas having been appointed by the Foreign Secretary to the FCO Free Expression advisory board and the Lord Chancellor to be a Champion for the Community Legal Service.

In December 2009, Mark first appeared in “Who’s Who” where he is described as “lawyer, broadcaster; writer; lecturer”.  He has written and contributed to five books.

Mark has been described by the ‘Law Society Gazette’ as, ‘the patron solicitor of previously lost causes’.  It is this reputation for creativity with law that leads clients to his door.

Mark has created a niche in international comparative media law and regulation.  His expertise also covers specialisms in Creative Arts & Cultural Industries, Human Rights, Judicial Review, Complex Commercial Litigation, Intellectual Property law, Privy Council cases - Ultimate Appeal Court for parts of the Commonwealth, as well as, Regulatory Cases & Inquiries.

Mark has practised before every level of Court in England and Wales and has also practised abroad and before international tribunals and courts.  He is also a Privy Council agent regularly working with a range of overseas lawyers. Mark is also a qualified mediator.

He has been retained by a number of Governments to advise and to represent their interests including, Republic of Cyprus, Republic of Greece, Jamaica, Libya, Mauritius, Romania and the Russian Republic.

Additionally, Mark has litigated in countries as diverse as Anguilla, Antigua, Australia, Cyprus, France, India, Iraq, Iran, Italy, Jamaica, Malaysia, Netherlands, Pitcairn Islands, New Zealand, Russia, Rwanda, Samoa, Singapore and the USA.

Mark chairs a number of bodies including the Design Artists Copyright Society, Global Network Initiative, the University of East London, the Management Committee of the Programme in Comparative Media Law and Policy Wolfson College, Oxford Centre for Socio Legal Studies, the Bianca Jagger Human Rights Foundation and sits on the boards of Censorship Commonwealth Lawyers Association, Human Rights Council of the International Bar Association and Internews Media Law Defence Initiative Independent Schools Inspectorate and is Hon Solicitor to Index of Censorship.

Mark regularly appears in print and on radio and television and enjoys debating.


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