(Beverly Hills, CA) — PEN America announced today that lawyer Theodore J. Boutrous, Jr., a partner in the Los Angeles office of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP, will receive PEN America’s Distinguished Leadership Award at the organization’s 2019 LitFest Gala in Beverly Hills. Boutrous will be recognized for his exceptional work handling high-profile litigation, media relations, and media legal issues, particularly his recent representation of Jim Acosta, CNN chief White House correspondent, and Brian Karem, Playboy White House correspondent. Boutrous joins previously announced honorees Ava DuVernay (Voice of Influence Award) and Diane Warren (Artistic Expression Award).  The 2019 LitFest Gala will take place on November 1, 2019 at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel.

“When people with power come after you for something you’ve said, you want Ted Boutrous in your corner.  His fearless representation of White House correspondents who have been targeted for reprisals by the Trump Administration has helped prove that the First Amendment is alive and well despite withstanding unprecedented assault,” said PEN America CEO Suzanne Nossel. “His leadership in advancing rights and defending freedoms is a stirring reminder of the power of individual conviction. Ted inspires us all to fight harder for the liberties that make possible all that we value in society.”

Mr. Boutrous said, “This award is especially meaningful to me because I have long admired the work of PEN America in protecting freedom of expression for writers and artists and because the First Amendment is under attack in this country – led by none other than the President of the United States. The whole point of freedom of speech and of the press is to ensure that the American people get the information they need so they can govern themselves. We need PEN America more than ever to achieve this objective and I am so honored to be part of its mission.”

Now in its 29th year, PEN America’s LitFest Gala is a celebration of free expression and the literary arts. Featuring impassioned tributes, conversation, and levity, the event brings together an esteemed audience of authors, screenwriters, producers, showrunners, executives, philanthropists, actors, and devotees of the written word who share a commitment to defending creative freedom and expression in Los Angeles and around the world. Money raised from the Gala fuels advocacy for writers, journalists, and artists threatened or imprisoned worldwide; landmark research addressing critical free speech issues; and the advancement of literary excellence and cross-cultural exchanges, including the World Voices Festival of International Literature, PEN America’s Literary Awards, and fellowship and grants programs. Recently honored luminaries and participants include Ai Weiwei, Marti Noxon & Gillian Flynn, Barry Jenkins, Roxane Gay, Isabel Allende, Jose Antonio Vargas, Margaret Atwood, Janet Mock, Norman Lear, Guillermo del Toro, Amber Tamblyn, Aisha Tyler, Amy Poehler, and Cecile Richards.

Theodore J. Boutrous, Jr., a partner in the Los Angeles office of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP, is global Co-Chair of the firm’s Litigation Group. He also is a member of the firm’s Executive and Management Committees.

As The New York Times has noted, Mr. Boutrous has “a long history of pushing the courts and the public to see the bigger picture on heated issues.” He has argued more than 100 appeals, including before the Supreme Court of the United States, 12 different federal circuit courts of appeals, 10 different state supreme courts, and a multitude of other appellate and trial courts in complex civil, constitutional, and criminal matters. Mr. Boutrous has successfully persuaded courts to overturn some of the largest jury verdicts and class actions in history, including the largest defamation verdict of all time. He recently filed a lawsuit on behalf of actor Ashley Judd against Harvey Weinstein seeking redress for the career-changing harm Mr. Weinstein caused when he defamed Judd to filmmakers in retaliation against Ms. Judd for having rejected Mr. Weinstein’s sexual advances. And Mr. Boutrous recently successfully represented Cable News Network, Inc. and Jim Acosta in bringing First Amendment and Due Process claims against President Donald Trump and other White House officials, forcing the White House to restore Mr. Acosta’s press credentials.

Mr. Boutrous has extensive experience handling high-profile litigation, media relations, and media legal issues. He routinely advises clients on how to respond to especially significant legal problems that attract the media spotlight. According to The National Law Journal, which in 2013 named him one of the “100 Most Influential Lawyers in America,” he “is known for his wise, strategic advice to clients in crisis and is a media law star.”

Mr. Boutrous is a frequent commentator on legal issues. His articles include “Why I’ll Defend Anyone Trump Sues for Speaking Freely” (POLITICO, October 31, 2016).

Mr. Boutrous is a member of the Advisory Board of the International Women’s Media Foundation and its 2015 Leadership Honoree. He is also a member of the Advisory Board of ProPublica.

Mr. Boutrous received his law degree, summa cum laude, from the University of San Diego School of Law in 1987, where he was valedictorian and editor-in-chief of the San Diego Law Review.


 PEN America stands at the intersection of literature and human rights to protect open expression in the United States and worldwide. Its mission is to unite writers and their allies to celebrate creative expression and defend the liberties that make it possible.

For more information on the PEN America’s 2019 LitFest Gala, please visit https://pen.org/litfest-gala/

Elyse Weissman
[email protected]

Stephen Fee
PEN America, Director of Communications
[email protected]

Tracey Kardash
PEN America, Deputy Director of Development
[email protected]