Summer is the Time for Training
IJ teaches students in the classroom and in the world of public interest law
2000 Law Student Conference participants listen intently as Chip Mellor, the Institute’s president, explains how public interest litigation has shaped law in the twentieth century.
By Maureen Blum
The Institute for Justice held its ninth annual Law Student Conference at Georgetown University this summer, training 41 law students from 28 law schools nationwide. In nine years IJ has trained more than 270 law students, who serve as the legal arsenal of our Human Action Network (HAN). The LSC Class of 2000 now brings IJ’s Human Action Network to 506 trained activists, including law students, policy activists, lawyers, and social scientists.
Among those addressing this year’s class were two HAN members: Stanford Law School Professor G. Marcus Cole (LSC ’92 alumnus) and State Policy Network President Tracie Sharp (Policy Activist Conference ’93 alumnus). They brought to the conference their respective expertise on how economics and state based think tanks play integral parts in public interest law strategy. They exhibited first-hand experience of working with IJ over the years as members of the Human Action Network, which complemented their lectures. Cole and Sharp were joined by long-standing conference speakers Professor Randy Barnett, Professor Douglas Kmiec, as well as Cato’s Dr. Roger Pilon, and attorney Daniel Troy.
California Supreme Court Justice Janice Brown provided an uplifting keynote address reminding students that freedom requires having the courage to live, to question, and to struggle with our own beliefs and convictions. And if we should fail pursing them, we should be prepared to try again.
As this conference provided a glimpse of opportunities for students choosing a career in public interest law, it also brought to a close a summer in the nation’s capital for most of the eleven students who clerked at IJ. They were a spirited group who not only provided quality work assisting our attorneys, but also invigorated our office with their energy. The clerks gained hands-on experience in the trenches of public interest litigation by investigating potential cases, performing invaluable legal research, and preparing a case for trial. The clerks’ many hours of hard work made an important contribution to IJ’s continuing battle for liberty.
Participants in the 2000 LSC and our law clerks gained valuable knowledge and experience for a variety of careers. Some will choose to pursue a full-time career in public interest litigation. Some may complement private practice with public interest work through the Human Action Network. Some may pursue a freer society through work in national or state-level policy organizations. Whatever their path, IJ trainees develop a broad base of skills and contacts to draw upon in their work and gain an understanding of the power of public interest litigation to change the world.
Maureen Blum is IJ’s director of outreach programs. The Institute’s Human Action Network is comprised of all graduates of IJ’s training programs.