By Bert Gall
By spreading the word about the Institute for Justice’s cases through the media, our communications team does a great job of reaching a large audience about the importance of liberty in the lives of every American. IJ attorneys reinforce this message by speaking directly to various audiences throughout the country about our litigation areas. This personal touch not only allows us to connect with and energize people who share our commitment to liberty, but also to educate audiences about our successes in using the law to expand liberty and to bring our expertise to bear on local debates.
The future legal activists for liberty are today’s law students, so IJ attorneys regularly speak at law schools across the country about our cases and the possibilities that public interest law offers for expanding liberty. Law students often believe that public interest law is only a tool for advancing the growth of the regulatory state, and most of them are delighted to learn that it doesn’t have to be that way. It’s no surprise that many of the students at schools visited by IJ attorneys apply to clerk here over the summer and attend our Law Student Conference.
Sometimes, the purpose of a talk is to educate audiences who may not know about changes in the law IJ has succeeded in forging. For example, Senior Attorneys Dana Berliner and Scott Bullock regularly speak before groups of eminent domain attorneys about the growing national trend (for which Dana and Scott can take a lot of credit) of courts putting more bite in the Fifth Amendment’s “public use” clause. The more these attorneys, and the local officials they often represent, learn about this trend, the more chance they will be wary of abusing the power of eminent domain.
Often, educating audiences about IJ’s litigation areas means lending our national voice to local debates. One very important way of doing this is talking directly to legislators. For example, IJ attorneys have testified about the constitutionality of school choice programs before legislatures in several states. IJ attorneys have also participated in debates about all of our litigation issues in forums across the country. In conjunction with our school choice litigation in Colorado, IJ President Chip Mellor recently debated a lawyer representing the teachers’ unions and a state legislator at the University of Colorado Law School. In debates of this kind—whether on school choice, economic liberty, property rights, or the First Amendment—IJ attorneys provide local audiences with a perspective and viewpoint they may have never heard before.
IJ attorneys will continue to educate and inspire individuals by talking to audiences across the country. To see upcoming IJ speaking events, visit our website at www.ij.org/speakers_events. We invite you to come by and see us in action the next time we’re in your city or town.
Bert Gall is an IJ attorney.