Barclay Damon
Barclay Damon


Joe Finnerty


p: 716.566.1471

f: 716.846.1229

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Buffalo Office

The Avant Building
200 Delaware Avenue
Buffalo, New York 14202

New York Office

Suite 600
1270 Avenue of the Americas
New York, New York 10020

p: 212.784.5800
f: 212.784.5777

Joe is Barclay Damon’s Media & First Amendment Law Practice Area chair. With almost 40 years of legal experience, Joe represents print, electronic, and internet-based news media organizations in all aspects of news gathering and dissemination, First Amendment issues, and defamation defense. He has also been centrally involved in multiple high-profile, commercial-litigation career cases.

Representative Experience

  • Successfully defended Erie County, along with late law partner John Stenger, against $620 million of lost-profits breach-of-contract damages claims resulting from an aborted domed-stadium project in Buffalo. The county prevailed on all profits claims after two jury trials—one of which lasted 13 months, which was then thought to be the longest civil-jury trial in NY history—and two trips to New York’s highest appellate court. These Court of Appeals decisions, known simply as Kenford I and Kenford II, still stand as the principal NY authorities on lost profits damages in breach-of-contract actions.
  • Represented one of the world’s largest petrochemical companies in a breach-of-contract action against domestic and foreign general-liability-insurance carriers and reinsurers to recover its expenditures for environmental cleanups at, among other sites, the Love Canal. Coordinated and supervised a massive discovery effort that involved constructing a screening facility and employing over 100 document screeners and more than 12 lawyers to review over 23 million documents. Eventually, 9 million documents were produced. Oversaw the litigation of over 300,000 document-privilege claims on the way to a favorable confidential settlement.
  • Won a decision declaring New York’s statutory ban on cameras in the courtroom inapplicable to bar photographic coverage. The ruling came in the nationally infamous trial of James Kopp for the sniper murder of abortion provider Dr. Barnett Slepian in his Amherst, New York, home.

Practice Areas


  • The Walter F. George School of Law, Mercer University, J.D., cum laude, Editor-in-Chief, Mercer Law Review (1980-81), 1981
  • Washington & Lee University, B.A., cum laude, 1976

Admitted To Practice

  • New York, 1982
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, 2nd Circuit
  • U.S. Bankruptcy Court
  • U.S. District Court, Western District of New York
  • U.S. District Court, Northern District of New York
  • U.S. District Court, Eastern District of New York
  • U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York

Memberships & Affiliations

  • American Bar Association
  • Bar Association of Erie County
  • New York State Bar Association, Committee on Media Law
  • Media Law Resource Center
  • National Press Club

Civic Activities

  • Campaign for Buffalo History, Architecture, and Culture, Former Board Member
  • Landmark Society of the Niagara Frontier, Former Trustee
  • St. Bonaventure University Graduate School of Communications, Former Guest Media Law Issues Lecturer

Speaking & Publications

  • Bar Association of Erie County Law Day 2019 Luncheon, "Challenges to Free Speech and Press in a Digital Age"
  • Investigative Post, "The State of Investigative Reporting," Panel Moderator
  • MediaLawLetter, “Buffalo News Wins Summary Judgment: Strong Headline Makes for Strong Headline Law”
  • MediaLawLetter, “Old Public Figures Never Die, Nor Do They Fade Away: A Multi-Factor Approach to Public Figure Analysis”
  • MediaLawLetter, “Where You Stand Is Decisive–People v. Kopp: New York’s Statutory Courtroom Camera Ban Does Not Apply to Still Photography”
  • Media Law Resource Center Committee Report, “Media Liability for Breach of Promise to Maintain a Source’s Confidentiality After Cohen v. Cowles Media Co.”


  • Selected to Super Lawyers Upstate New York: Media/Advertising Law, 2016-2018
  • ALM Top-Rated in Energy, Environmental, and Natural Resources Law, 2013
  • Martindale-Hubbell AV Peer Review Rated for Very High to Preeminent Ethical Standards and Legal Ability

Prior Experience

  • Hiscock & Barclay, LLP, Partner
  • Stenger & Finnerty, Founding Partner
  • Jaeckle, Fleischmann & Mugel, Partner
  • Jaeckle, Fleischmann & Mugel, Associate