By Robert McNamara
Since IJ’s founding, we have taken the long view on liberty: The fight for freedom does not take place over months, but over decades. And that means, in addition to focusing on winning the cases we litigate today, we have always focused on training the law students who will be defending the Constitution tomorrow. One of our most effective tools for doing this is our summer law clerk program, which has over the years brought hundreds of law students from across the country together for weeks of intensive one-on-one work with IJ’s top litigators and staff.
Summer clerks at IJ provide us with essential manpower, doing cutting-edge research that both advances our current litigation and helps us stay ahead of legal trends for future cases. But more importantly, they learn. They learn to improve their research techniques, they learn to improve their writing, and they learn the ins and outs of complex litigation and the IJ culture, all with the help of experienced IJ attorneys. As summer jobs go, this one is second-to-none.
The clerk program does more than provide summer jobs, though. It gets results. Over the years, alumni of our clerk program have taken the lessons learned and connections made during their summer with us to advance liberty in all sorts of ways. Some do so directly at IJ, including class of 2000 clerk Larry Salzman, who you can find battling against civil forfeiture on the cover of this issue of Liberty & Law. Some continue the fight for freedom in public interest organizations, like Bob Levy, one of IJ’s very first clerks back in 1992, who is now the chairman of the Cato Institute (and a member of IJ’s own Board of Directors). Some fight for freedom in the private sector, like Alan Gura (IJ class of 1993), the Washington, D.C., attorney who successfully argued both the landmark Second Amendment case District of Columbia v. Heller and the subsequent challenge to Chicago’s handgun ban in McDonald v. City of Chicago. Still others are law professors, continuing to train the next generation, like George Mason University’s Ilya Somin (IJ class of 1998). Wherever our clerks go, however, we try to make sure that our training and mentorship leaves them better prepared to fight for liberty when they get there.
Ronald Reagan famously said that freedom must be fought for and defended by each generation. Through consistent investment in the lawyers of tomorrow, IJ is helping make sure that it will be.
Robert McNamara is an IJ senior attorney and was an IJ summer clerk way back in 2004.