Alex Abdo Appointed Knight Institute’s First Litigation Director

March 06, 2019

The Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University today announced that it has named Alex Abdo as its first Litigation Director. Abdo, who joined the Institute’s staff in 2017 as a Senior Staff Attorney, has been instrumental in building the Institute’s legal docket to include important and challenging cases relating to transparency, press freedom, and free speech on social media.

“Alex is perfectly suited to lead the Institute’s litigation program as it continues to evolve and expand,” said Jameel Jaffer, the Knight Institute’s Executive Director.  “He’s a talented litigator and communicator with a deep understanding of and appreciation for the values that animate our work. Over the last two years, he has contributed in one way or another to virtually all of the significant decisions we’ve made at the Institute. He not only has a very good sense of where we are as an organization but also where we need to go.”

Prior to joining the Institute, Abdo was a senior staff attorney at the ACLU. He has been at the forefront of litigation relating to NSA surveillance, encryption, anonymous speech online, and government transparency. In 2015, he argued the closely watched appeal that resulted in the Second Circuit invalidating the NSA’s call-records program.

“I’m humbled to have this opportunity to lead the Knight Institute’s litigation program at a momentous time for the freedoms of speech and the press,” said Abdo. “Over the coming months, we’ll be launching new projects relating to surveillance on social media, national-security censorship, and digital journalism. I’m excited to work with the Institute’s incredibly talented legal team in tackling some of the most significant First Amendment questions of the digital age.”

Abdo graduated from Yale College and Harvard Law School. After law school, Abdo clerked for the Hon. Barbara M.G. Lynn, United States District Judge for the Northern District of Texas, and for the Hon. Rosemary Barkett, United States Circuit Judge for the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals.

Follow Abdo on Twitter at @AlexanderAbdo.

For more information, contact: Lorraine Kenny, Communications Director, Knight Institute,

About the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University

The Knight First Amendment Institute is a non-partisan, not-for-profit organization established by Columbia University and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation to defend the freedoms of speech and press in the digital age through strategic litigation, research, and public education. Its aim is to promote a system of free expression that is open and inclusive, that broadens and elevates public discourse, and that fosters creativity, accountability, and effective self-government.