Melissa Landau Steinman

Steinman Melissa

Melissa Steinman focuses on advertising and marketing, promotions, consumer protection, antitrust, trade regulation, and consumer product safety. In addition to counseling and compliance, she also actively represents clients in government investigations and defends clients against class actions. Melissa represents a broad array of clients, including consumer products and hospitality brands, media and tech companies, retailers, gaming and software companies, start-ups, celebrities, producers, charities, and trade associations. She is particularly well known for her deep knowledge of promotions law, including sweepstakes, contests, gift cards, loyalty programs, and charitable promotions, and she speaks and writes frequently on the topic in the United States and internationally.

Melissa works closely with clients to review their advertising and marketing materials, and vet their pricing and sales claims. She advises on product safety issues – devising product warranties and providing guidance on mitigating potential product safety issues. Melissa has managed Lanham Act and complex advertising and marketing litigation, as lead counsel before U.S. federal and state courts.

Melissa has also developed an extensive promotions and online gaming practice. She counsels clients on gift card, rebate, "free" gift, and loyalty programs. She combines her understanding of prize promotions law, digital media regulations, and U.S. regulations in advising on social media promotions and user-generated content.

Melissa assists industry trade groups in creating their own industry-specific rules. She has drafted antitrust policies and standards, certification programs, codes of ethics, and other self-regulatory programs and policies. Her practice encompasses antitrust issues related to minimum advertised price and resale price maintenance, price discrimination, and other issues relevant to product purchases and sales.


Representative Matters

  • Advised a global hospitality brand in assessing whether and how to expand its popular gift card program internationally, coordinating local counsel in multiple countries to analyze the relevant laws in those jurisdictions, including consumer protection, anti-money laundering, unclaimed property, and banking laws
  • Represented leading “charitable sweepstakes” platform in defense of California Attorney General investigation, advising on compliance with federal and state lottery and sweepstakes laws
  • Assisted BlackBerry Limited (formerly Research in Motion Ltd.) in an international, cross-media, multi-promotion effort as it launched its “bet-the-company” Z10 product line. Her work included advising the client on reviewing concepts, negotiating agency contracts and promotion services agreements, creating terms and conditions, and supervising global clearance and registration of multiple sweepstakes and other promotions
  • Helped MicroStrategy, Inc., a multinational software company, develop and launch an international prize promotion, in conjunction with one of the world’s most prominent soccer franchises, that ran in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and Japan. Her work involved structuring the promotion, advising the client on U.S. compliance requirements for marketing materials, and supervising the legal clearance of the promotion in the listed countries, utilizing Venable’s network of international counsel. The matter was an outgrowth of Melissa’s work for the client in developing a new social media application that interfaces with a user’s Facebook account to create a Craig’s List-like platform that is limited to users’ social graph (i.e., their friends and friends of friends on that particular social media platform)
  • Performed a comprehensive assessment and update of Capital One’s regulatory database to ensure that all future promotions will be compliant with federal and state regulations, such as the federal Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure Act (CARD); lottery and prize promotions laws; state gift card laws; and state unfair, deceptive, abusive advertising practices (UDAAP) statutes
  • Provided comprehensive advertising counseling to Marriott International, Inc. as it prepared a global re-branding campaign, including review of all advertising, social media outreach, and sweepstakes and promotions
  • Analyzed whether the pay-to-enter "road show" version of a major game show would constitute illegal gambling under state or federal law
  • Represented nationally prominent celebrity in FTC inquiry into her compliance with Endorsements and Testimonials Rule; matter closed without further action
  • Drafted numerous association certification and standard-setting programs, and counseled client on related antitrust compliance issues




  • J.D. Harvard Law School 1993
  • B.A. cum laude Columbia University 1990

Bar Admissions

  • Maryland
  • District of Columbia

Court Admissions

  • U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia
  • U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit
  • U.S. Supreme Court

Professional Memberships and Activities

  • Member, American Bar Association, Antitrust Section, Consumer Protection and Privacy Subcommittees
  • Member, Maryland State Bar Association
  • Member, District of Columbia Bar Association
  • Brand Activation Association, Board Member; chair, 34th Annual Marketing Law Conference; member, Legal and Government Affairs Center of Excellence
  • Member, Women's Bar Association of the District of Columbia
  • Contributes to Venable’s blog, All About Advertising Law
  • Wrote and edited the Guide to Federal and State Regulation of Advertising, a comprehensive two-volume book/CD on the law of advertising and promotions
  • Contributed chapters to the ABA’s Consumer Protection Law Handbook, and Advertising and Its Substantiation Handbook
  • Contributed to Globe Law and Business’s International Advertising Law
  • Contributed to the Promotion Marketing Association’s treatise, Promotion Marketing Law
  • Contributes commentary to the Los Angeles Times, and other notable publications


  • Chambers USA, Advertising: Transactional & Regulatory, Nationwide, 2021 – 2023
  • The Best Lawyers in America, 2021 – 2024
  • Legal 500
    • Media, Technology and Telecoms – Advertising and Marketing – Transactional and Regulatory, 2010 – 2014, 2019 – 2020, 2022
    • Leading Lawyer, Media, Technology and Telecoms – Advertising and Marketing – Transactional and Regulatory, 2023



  • Board member, Gaucher Community Alliance
  • D.C. leader, Columbia College Women
  • Class agent, Reunion Committee, Columbia College Class of 1990