By Chip Mellor
Combine a passion for liberty, tenacious advocacy, a dash of drama and a 1,000-watt smile and you have the makings of a hard-charging litigator named Valerie Bayham. Valerie is a member of the growing club of young attorneys who went to law school because they were inspired by our work here at the Institute for Justice. After clerking for a summer with us, Valerie joined IJ as a staff attorney nearly three years ago. She is a graduate of the University of Chicago Law School, where she earned the Donald E. Egan scholarship for service and leadership, and Agnes Scott College, where she graduated with honors.
Immediately upon arriving at IJ, Valerie was thrust into a contentious dispute in Mississippi over whether African hairbraiders should be subjected to the state’s arbitrary and onerous cosmetology licensing laws. With senior attorneys focused on our two U.S. Supreme Court cases that term, Valerie traveled solo to Jackson, Miss., where she rapidly developed strong relationships with local braiders and put the state on notice that the unjust licensing law had to go. When the state responded to our lawsuit by trying to make cosmetic changes to the law, Valerie and her team mobilized and transformed the legislative momentum to eliminate the training requirements altogether. That was no small accomplishment for a newly minted attorney taking on her first case.
Having scored such a dramatic quick victory, Valerie next became part of the team challenging Colorado’s campaign finance laws that are being used to suppress free speech. From Colorado, Valerie traveled to New Hampshire where she represents ZeroBrokerFees.com, a small online advertising business that is challenging the state’s requirement that it secure a real estate broker license in order to provide its services. The range of issues in which Valerie has been involved testifies to her legal acumen and advocacy skills.
When not litigating, Valerie and IJ Staff Attorney Jeff Rowes oversee our summer program for law clerks and interns. Each summer, this program brings more than a dozen students to the Institute for Justice where we immerse them in IJ’s unique brand of legal advocacy. In addition to generating high-caliber legal research, our summer program builds a new generation of libertarian-minded public interest lawyers.
With her legal advocacy, not to mention her Southern hospitality and an occasional Valerie-ism (“that’s the cat calling the kettle black”), Valerie has already made her mark at IJ. We look forward to what she will bring to IJ’s mission in the future.
Chip Mellor is IJ’s president and general counsel.