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The Conservative/Libertarian movement is best defined by this well-known exposition of the Constitution by James Madison in 1788:

“The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the State governments are numerous and indefinite.”

James Madison, Federalist No. 45, January 26, 1788

James Madison believed in the core principles of an open society—individual liberty, free enterprise, responsibility, prosperity, and a limited, accountable government. The conservative/libertarian commitment to limited government, free markets, democracy, and the rule of law continues to be the driving force behind building an America where freedom, prosperity, and opportunity flourish. However, a balance must constantly be strived for between protecting America’s security and protecting fundamental rights and civil liberties.

Since the mid-1990s, we have seen a dramatic rise in the number of conservative/libertarian public interest organizations and policy research institutes worldwide. This change can best be explained by the expansion of the conservative/libertarian movement in this country, the fall of communism, as well as the growth in the number of political democracies throughout the world. September 11th shifted foreign policy and strengthened the patriotic mood in the U.S. The spread of freedom is no sure thing. Recent progress has been met by strong resistance for reasons including domestic protectionism and cultural misunderstanding. To assure global freedom the role of the U.S. is critical and the importance of attracting young lawyers to serve in public policy positions is essential in achieving these goals.

In the coming years, our country’s leaders must continue to assure the Nation’s security, promote technological innovation, secure economic development in countries where we have a strategic interest, improve the natural environment, and promote international trade and globalization. With these challenges comes a great opportunity, both domestically and internationally, for students interested in conservative/libertarian public interest law. As we continue to grow globally, we must also be prepared to understand and bridge the gaps between important disciplines such as engineering, medicine, defense, religion, education, energy, telecommunications, the environment, and economic development. The world no longer consists of separate enclaves, but must be united in resolving global problems and challenges that cross many fields.

The Conservative movement has been instrumental in recognizing and establishing democracy-building initiatives throughout the world, and continues to flourish in former communist countries and in recent years in Islamic, African, and Mid-Eastern nations. Conservatives have participated in numerous organizations and entities, helping to increase visibility. Conservative initiatives are expanding in the legislative, executive and judicial branches of government, public interest nonprofits, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), research institutes, international public policy centers, and litigating organizations. Opportunities are as diverse as the organizations and include public policy research, legislative drafting, regulatory reform, foreign relations and counter-terrorism, litigation of constitutional issues before the state and federal courts, and the analysis of judicial theory from the conservative/libertarian perspective.

The organizations listed at the end of this Guide should be carefully reviewed to assist you in finding career opportunities that will integrate your professional interests with your personal and political beliefs. Do not hesitate to contact these organizations to discuss areas of interest to you that may not be included in the organization’s profile, but would provide an opportunity to develop new initiatives or projects in public interest law.


Through reading this Guide, you will learn not only about specific internship opportunities, but more importantly, about the experiences of HLS graduates and how you can take advantage of the numerous resources that exist right at Harvard for enriching your knowledge of public interest law and sharing an interest in conservative and libertarian views with fellow classmates, alumni, and faculty. Several themes emerge in interviews with HLS graduates. Most would agree that finding a mentor, cultivating contacts in the public interest field, joining public interest organizations like the Federalist Society and the Harvard Law School Republicans, and most important writing for a public interest journal like the Journal of Law and Public Policy go a long way towards finding the right job in conservative public interest law.

After spending a good part of my own career in public service at the state, federal and international levels, I can assure you that it is the most exciting and challenging of all career options. For me, a career in public service has been a way of life that has never caused me to look back and long for the riches of the private sector. My public service began right out of law school with the Honors Program at the Department of Justice. Within five years I was presiding over some of the largest and most complex public corporate reorganization cases filed in our country’s history including a major airline, a nuclear power plant, and a leading international bank holding company. Serving as an international consultant for the U.S. Department of State in Eastern and Central Europe helping emerging economies address the fall of communism was also an enriching experience where I learned about the importance of cultural issues and the ideologies that drive policy in developing new legal systems. However, one of my most fulfilling public service experiences was the opportunity to observe firsthand at the City on a Hill Charter School, among others, the impact that innovative public charter schools, free from bureaucratic rules and regulations of traditional public schools, can have on the improvement of education in the inner cities.

Though financial concerns are an important consideration, don’t miss the opportunity to experience public service from a governmental, public policy, or litigation perspective as often as you can throughout your legal career. Learning about public service work, knowing what you would like to do, and bringing a passion for public service to the interview will go a long way in making you a viable candidate. Please do not hesitate to call upon the OPIA staff as you consider the challenging opportunities available in the constantly expanding field of public service law.  OPIA advisers take great interest in helping you find the best options for your short- and long-term career goals.

– Ginny A. Greiman, Former OPIA Attorney Adviser

The Conservative’s View of the Law

A primary principle of conservatism is respect for the legacy of the past. Abraham Lincoln best summarized the importance of origins to the Conservative Party in his famous quote:

“What is conservatism? Is it not the adherence to the old and tried against the new and untried?”

Lincoln’s Cooper Institute Address, February 27, 1860

Conservatives in particular find meaning in origins, whether the origin is historical, or religious, or posited, as in the state of nature theories that libertarians rely upon.1 The conservative believes strongly in the principles of democracy, federalism, and the separation of powers set forth by the founding fathers in the constitution. For the conservative, convention, constitution, and structure are the sources of a civil social order.

The foundation of judicial conservatism is respect for the source of one’s judicial authority in the founding fathers’ Constitution. The framers of the Constitution favored limited government, states’ rights, and the protection of private property. After the Constitution was signed, but before ratification among the states, a series of essays appeared in defense of the document known as The Federalist Papers. These papers provide the structure for the conservative movement. In 1787 and 1788 James Madison, Alexander Hamilton and John Jay authored the Federalist Papers, a penetrating commentary on the principles and processes of the proposed Constitution and a guide to the conservative movement in America. James Madison is often referred to as the Father of the United States Constitution mainly because of his eloquent persuasion reflected in the Federalist Papers. Though the essays had little impact on the debate to ratify the Constitution, they are still considered a classic work of political theory. The authors argued that federalism offered a means of both preserving state sovereignty and providing a safeguard for individual freedom from tyrannical rules.

Conservative Jurisprudence

The conservative doctrine is best reflected in the Supreme Court’s jurisprudence on issues of federalism and separation of powers. These cases concern the balance of power between the states and the federal government, the rules concerning preemption of state law by federal law, the doctrine of separation of powers, and the Eleventh Amendment, which addresses state immunity from lawsuits brought in federal court.

The accumulation of all powers, legislative, executive, and judiciary, in the same hands, whether of one, a few, or many, and whether hereditary, self-appointed, or elective, may justly be pronounced the very definition of tyranny.

James Madison, Federalist No. 48, February 1, 1788

Justice Sandra Day O’Connor in her book, The Majesty of the Law, notes that the continuous expansion of the docket of “federalism” cases like the rest of its agenda is largely a reflection of concerns that originate outside the Court.2 The number of such cases accepted by the Court averaged around fifteen per term through the 1950s and dropped substantially in the latter half of the 1960s (the same period in which the civil rights docket was expanding), and then rose steadily to an average of about twenty to twenty-five per term—a level that has been maintained overtime.

In a scholarly article on the makeup of the “Rehnquist Court,” the author describes the protection of federalism as an area where the Court has continued to clearly favor the conservative position to protect the states from the national government.3 Other areas where the Court has favored the conservative view include racial preferences and regulatory takings.4

The Libertarian’s View of the Law

The fabric of the American empire ought to rest on the solid basis of the consent of the people. The streams of national power ought to flow from that pure, original fountain of all legitimate authority.

Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 22, December 14, 1787

While libertarians are a diverse group of people with many philosophical beliefs, they share a defining principle that everyone should be free to do as they choose, so long as they don’t infringe upon the equal freedom of others.5 Libertarians defend each person’s right to life, liberty, and property—rights that people possess naturally, before governments were created.

Libertarians advocate maximizing individual rights and minimizing the role of the state by advancing the Jeffersonian principles of free markets, limited government, federalism, and individual freedoms. The libertarian believes in freedom from the restraints of government activism and government controls whether these restraints and controls arise from restraints on trade or the movement of goods in the marketplace, increased taxation, or the buildup of the welfare state, and foreign political and military activism.

The historical roots of libertarianism are found in Jeffersonian philosophy. Libertarians believe that governments should be held to the same standards of right and wrong as individuals and that less government is best, that government should only exist to protect and defend us against others who might impinge upon our basic freedoms, or threaten us with violence and harm. Libertarians strongly believe in the force of the Bill of Rights and the protection of the freedoms provided therein. These freedoms include freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and the right to bear arms, a voluntary military service, and the right to own and use property without governmental restriction. On the other hand, libertarians condemn such government actions as the draft, restrictions on the right to bear arms, market and pricing controls, eminent domain, and regulation of our personal lives.

To learn more about the Libertarian view, the Cato Institute’s Center for Constitutional Studies publishes annually the Cato Supreme Court Review, a critique of the Court’s most important decisions from the term just ended, plus a look at the cases ahead—all from a classical Madisonian perspective, grounded in the nation’s first principles, liberty and limited government. Other popular libertarian organizations include the Institute for Justice, the Reason Foundation, and the Institute for Humane Studies featured in the organization section of this Guide.

The Libertarian Political Movement in America

Liberty is essential to political life.

James Madison, Federalist No. 10, November 23, 1787

Libertarianism as an intellectual influence has been with us for a long time dating back to the thinking of John Locke, Thomas Jefferson, Thomas Paine, and John Stuart Mill. Although libertarianism as an intellectual force dates back to the 1940s and the end of World War II, the Libertarian Party was not founded until 1971 in Colorado. However, the Party has made consistent progress since that time in building a grassroots effort in all 50 states and is today one of the largest alternative political parties in the United States. The Libertarian party has never been as concerned with traditional political power as have our predominant two parties, but the guiding logic has always been ideas. In recent years as Americans become more conservative, the libertarians have become an important part of the conservative coalition. Although both conservatives and libertarians believe in limited government, libertarians go much further than the conservative party regarding the abolition of government altogether except for defense, security and protection from the violence of others. They do converge with the conservative philosophy on such issues as government deregulation, privatization, welfare reform, school choice, reduced taxes, balanced budgets, and anti-trust legislation.

Going Global as a Conservative

The emergence of a global economy and democracy building has opened the door for conservatives in almost every corner of the world. Conservative doctrine is studied and valued all around the globe, but particularly in developing countries where the federalist approach to structuring governments and developing constitutions is desperately needed and sought out by many foreign government organizations. Eastern and Central European countries were eager to learn about free markets after the fall of communism, and countries including India, China, Africa and Mid-Eastern nations continue to expand the rule of law by the establishment of legal systems and the encouragement of foreign direct investment. International issues include federalism and foreign relations, international terrorism, harmonization and conflict of laws, the regulation of international financial institutions and markets, competition policy, intellectual property, welfare and health care reform and the spreading of Western values. The conservative philosophy of limited government and regulatory reform echoes from the halls of the U.S. Justice Department and the U.S. Department of State to governments in Argentina, India, Romania, South Africa, Russia, Australia and the Philippines to name a few.

Within the Department of Justice (DOJ) many international opportunities for conservatives arise in the law enforcement area under the Office of International Affairs, the Counter-Terrorism Unit (CTU), the Organized Crime and Racketeering Section, and the Antitrust, Tax, and Computer Crime Divisions. If you are interested in overseas criminal justice development, the Office of Overseas Prosecutorial Development, Assistance and Training (OPDAT) is tasked with the training of judges and prosecutors abroad in coordination with various government agencies and U.S. embassies in Central and Eastern Europe, Latin America, Russia, and recently independent States.

Collaboration is critical to the success of DOJ; therefore, many of the divisions, sections and offices in DOJ work together to combat crime and spread the rule of law around the world. As an example, the CTU assists OPDAT in achieving its primary goal to counter terrorism, while also supporting OPDAT efforts to build effective justice sectors that respect the rule of law. If your interests lie more with foreign relations, national security and diplomatic opportunities, the Department of State, the Committee on Security and Cooperation in Europe, and the Offices of Legal Counsel and Legal Policy at DOJ may be more to your liking. The U.S. Department of State, Office of Law Enforcement and Intelligence promotes mutual legal assistance in criminal and other law enforcement matters, negotiates treaties, and coordinates U.S. and foreign criminal proceedings with foreign policy implications. There are also many opportunities to learn about international commerce and trade through the U.S. Department of Commerce, Chief Counsel for International Commerce, the U.S. Trade Development Agency, and the U.S. Department of The Treasury, Office of Foreign Assets Control, and Office of International Affairs. In summary, if you are interested in conservative and libertarian public policy from the international perspective there are numerous opportunities to engage your interests and passion.

If your preference is for international work in the nonprofit area, there are a growing number of international experts and organizations focused on conservative and libertarian policies. For example, a demonstration of the Heritage Foundation’s dedication to spreading conservatism is shown through its presence in Russia, China and other countries through its Freedom Project, which aims to define a comprehensive freedom agenda and identify the policies that will make it a reality.

In addition to the Heritage Foundation, most of the conservative public policy research institutes have both a domestic and international focus. The Heritage Foundation’s international research focuses on foreign and defense policy studies and international trade and finance. The Federalist Society addresses international interests through its International and National Security Law Subcommittee and through its many Programs and the Annual National Lawyers Conference. The American Enterprise Institute (AEI) also focuses on international issues through its Foreign Defense, Latin American, Asian, Middle East and Developing World Policy Studies. AEI can provide a wealth of information on opportunities worldwide in public interest and policy careers.

The Margaret Thatcher Center for Freedom, based at the Heritage Foundation, is dedicated to promoting Lady Thatcher’s vision of political and economic freedom. The mission of the Thatcher Center is to give the world a greater understanding of the principles of limited government, representative democracy, market economics, the rule of law and strong national defenses.

There are many nonprofit organizations throughout the world that promote conservative values, including the Foundation for Democracy in Africa and the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, both based in Washington, D.C. The well-known Fraser Institute in Vancouver addresses fiscal issues in North America and the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies addresses political-military conflict and the global security challenges of the 21st century. Many of these organizations are listed in the organizational section of this Guide.

Preparing for a Career

Preparation for a career in public service begins in law school, and many opportunities exist right at Harvard and through summer internships. Summarized below are some of the best ways to get involved in learning more about the role of the public interest lawyer.

Spend a Summer in Government or with a Nonprofit Public Policy or Litigating Organization

As you are reviewing the numerous nonprofits and public interest litigating groups listed at the end of this Guide, keep in mind this is just a starting point. In addition to these organizations there are numerous state and federal agencies that can provide a fulfilling experience in public service as well. Be sure to check out the state organizational structure on the separate state websites, and contact the agency directly that appeals to you. Federal U.S. Attorney’s Offices, State Attorney General’s Offices, and local District Attorney’s Offices offer excellent prosecutorial and civil and criminal jury trial experience.

The federal government has law-related positions in every agency with the U.S. Department of Justice, and the U.S. Department of Defense offers some creative and challenging opportunities. Since September 11th, departments and agencies have been established, like the Department of Homeland Security, and expanded, like the U.S. Department of Justice Counterterrorism and Counterespionage Sections. Those interested in security issues might also consider working in the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) or the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Other federal agencies also provide some excellent opportunities in the areas of public policy formulation and implementation, regulatory oversight, enforcement, and trial experience. These include the Federal Trade Commission, Securities and Exchange Commission, Department of Labor, Department of Education, Department of Energy, Department of Environmental Protection, and Department of Health and Human Services.

If you are interested in financial policy and international economic development, the Department of Treasury, Federal Reserve Board, the U.S. Department of Commerce, the World Bank, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, the U.S. Agency for International Development and the Trade Development Agency offer interesting opportunities nationally and internationally. For HLS students, be sure to utilize OPIA resources, particularly the visiting Wasserstein Fellows.

Congressional internships are available through members of Congress and other governmental organizations. They are extremely competitive but not impossible, and a well-focused effort to obtain one of these internships is well worth the effort. Applications for congressional internships can be made directly to members of the House and Senate. Application for an internship with a congressional committee, an informal congressional organization, or a party organization should be made to the committee or to individual members of the committee. See the narratives in this Guide of Paul Taylor and Kathryn Biber Chen for some excellent insight on the benefits of congressional internships.

The Senate Committee on the Judiciary and the House Judiciary Committee each host an internship program that offers law students opportunities with the full committee and individual subcommittees.  As there is a majority and minority side to each, applicants are strongly encouraged to apply with the office that most appropriately reflects their views.

If you are interested in foreign relations and national security you should consider the House Armed Services Committee, Homeland Security Committee, and Intelligence Committee, and the Senate Armed Services Committee, Foreign Relations Committee and Intelligence Committee. Internships are also available in congressional support agencies such as the Congressional Budget Office, the Congressional Research Center, and the General Accounting Office.

Serve on a Public Board, Commission or Advisory Committee

The federal government has hundreds of boards and commissions that provide an opportunity to serve the public interest without committing to a full-time position. These are often appointed positions through the White House Presidential Personnel Office. Some Commissions are bi-partisan by legislative mandate; others are open to the discretion of the Appointing Authority similar to federal judicial appointments. Presidential appointments are an ongoing effort. Some appointments will require Senate confirmation. These appointments include positions throughout the federal government, for the Cabinet and subcabinet, for members of regulatory commissions, for ambassadorships, for judgeships and for members of numerous advisory boards.

The most popular appointments for conservatives include the Commission on International Religious Freedom, Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, Committee on Foreign Investments in the United States, the Council of the Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency, the Taxpayer Advocacy Service, the Commission on Presidential Scholars, the Commission on Civil Rights, and the Foreign Claims Settlement Commission. As Administrations change, boards and commissions can also change to comport with the mission and goals of the Administration.

All states have appointment opportunities as well. At the state level Republican governors tend to prefer commissions that address economic and taxpayer concerns, while Democrat governors may establish commissions to deal with social service concerns and expanded government services. The Judicial Nominating Committee is one way to be involved in your local government as well as Commissions that advise the governor on tax, energy and regulatory policy.

Research, Learn About and Connect with Public Policy Experts

The Harvard Kennedy School and the Harvard Business School are excellent sources for public policy experts as are colleges and universities. Policy expert lists are also maintained by the leading research institutes, the American Enterprise Institute and Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C.

Join the Federalist Society or Other Conservative/Libertarian Public Policy Organizations

Harvard Law School alumni agree on one thing, and that is the value of membership in the Federalist Society for executive, legislative and judicial branch connections, as well as networking opportunities with Washington’s best-known public policy think tanks and research institutes. The Federalist Society for Law and Public Policy Studies is a D.C. based group of conservatives and libertarians interested in the current state of the legal order. Student chapters exist at HLS and most other law schools throughout the country. Harvard Law School has one of the largest student memberships in the country. It is founded on the principles that the state exists to preserve freedom, that the separation of governmental powers is central to our Constitution, and that it is emphatically the province and duty of the judiciary to say what the law is, not what it should be. In working to achieve these goals, the Society has created a conservative and libertarian intellectual network that extends to all levels of the legal community. The Harvard Society sponsors debates between prominent legal scholars, hosts discussions with professors, and assists its members in securing judicial clerkships. Not to be missed is the Society’s annual National Lawyers Convention in mid-November in Washington, D.C. In addition to the Federalist Society, there are other student practice groups, special interest groups, clinical practice organizations, service organizations, student publications and social groups at HLS.

Participate in Conservative/Libertarian Centers on Regulatory Reform

There are unique opportunities to publish and participate in conservative/libertarian studies on regulations and rulemaking. A good illustration is The AEI-Brookings Joint Center for Regulatory Studies. The Center produces analysis of federal regulations and rulemaking proposals through the use of cost-benefit analysis and private-market alternatives to government “command and control,” and studies of regulatory programs and their economic consequences. The Pioneer Institute seeks to keep Massachusetts competitive by promoting transparent regulation and small business creation in urban areas, and has numerous projects where they welcome participation.

Experience a Clinical or Pro Bono Program

HLS Office of Clinical and Pro Bono Programs offers a diversity of public service clinical experiences in many substantive areas and for national and international public interest organizations, and it is an ideal opportunity to gain hands-on experience in managing caseloads.

Write for a Journal

One of the most prestigious conservative public interest law journals is the Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy. Review the recent articles, and the recent developments of the Supreme Court in each edition to learn more about the current issues and trends in conservative public interest law. Other excellent student journals include the Harvard Law Review, International Law Journal, Journal of Law & Technology and the Journal on Legislation.

Work for a Campaign and Election

Campaigns both at the local and national level are a great way to become involved in conservative and libertarian public interest law issues. An excellent summary of campaign work, the hiring process, summer and post-grad employment, and common functions of political campaigns can be found in OPIA’s Guide to Working On Political Campaigns. You can offer to volunteer at the Republican National Convention, or contact your local State Republican Party to learn how you can become a convention delegate and participate in the rules and platform committees. There are often policy issues that need to be researched to prepare the candidate’s platform. On the local level you can contact the campaigns of the candidates directly. Each state also has a state committee that often needs assistance in fielding candidates. On the national level, the Republican National Committee, the National Republican Senatorial Committee, the National Republican Congressional Committee, or the Young Republicans can assist you in identifying a campaign that best directs your interests and talents. These committees also offer a limited number of summer internships if you contact them in the fall of the prior year. Kathryn Biber Chen’s narrative and Ted Cruz’s narrative in this Guide provide some great insight into the benefits of working for a presidential campaign. Sarah Isgur ’09 describes her day-to-day work in the Mitt Romney Presidential Campaign as involving contracts with consultants and fundraisers, state-specific election law research, and state surveys on ballot access. As she explains on the day of Governor Romney’s official announcement of his candidacy for President, “when it all came together in Michigan and we all watched it together in the war room, it was remarkable.”

Research for a Professor

Several HLS professors research constitutional and federal court issues. Review course descriptions to identify the professors who could best guide you on opportunities in conservative and libertarian public interest law.

In addition to full time-faculty, HLS also has a number of visiting and adjunct faculty that research and publish conservative and libertarian articles for highly regarded journals and law reviews.

Network at Harvard

Network at Harvard both within and outside HLS through public interest organizations, law school events, and Harvard alumni. Explore research centers, nonprofit organizations, and public policy institutes located throughout the University. Review the following resources to learn about programs at Harvard University focusing on policy issues.

Harvard Kennedy School Research Centers: HKS offers a variety of research programs and publications in public policy. The Center for Public Leadership, the Rappaport Institute for Greater Boston, the Politics Research Group and the Institute of Politics all offer courses, programs and great networking opportunities.

Weatherhead Center for International Affairs: The Weatherhead Center is the international research center within Harvard University’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences. The Center sponsors a wide variety of seminars, research programs, workshops, and conferences relevant to international economic policy and international development.

Learn About Conservative Jurisprudence

To become familiar with conservative jurisprudence, read the opinions of conservative Court of Appeals judges, including Judge Edith Jones of the 5th Circuit, Judge Alex Kozinski formerly of the 9th Circuit, Chief Judge Frank H. Easterbrook of the 7th Circuit and Judges Douglas H. Ginsburg and A. Raymond Randolph of the D.C. Circuit. Chief Judge Loren A. Smith of the United States Court of Federal Claims is a devoted federalist and expert on judicialization of the administrative process. Opportunities are numerous to connect with conservative judges at Federalist Society Conferences, and programs offered through the many public interest organizations included herein.

Harvard Law School provides access to HLS alumni working in conservative public policy positions through its extensive alumni database. Several alumni have contributed to the narratives in this Guide, and are a great resource for obtaining information about summer public interest internships and post-graduate opportunities. HLS alums can be found throughout the federal government, and several of them are involved with the public policy nonprofits listed in this Guide. The Federalist Society, the American Enterprise Institute, and the Heritage Foundation have many conservative legal scholars who willingly share their knowledge and resources for conservative/libertarian public interest opportunities.

Personal Narratives

Note that all personal narratives in this Guide reflect titles that were current when the narratives were collected.

  • Ted Cruz, HLS ’95
    Solicitor General, State of Texas

    Because politics and the law have always been a part of my life, it’s difficult to point to where my interest in public service began. As the son of an immigrant who was extremely active during the Cuban Revolution, I grew up discussing politics at the dinner table, and so when it came time to choose a career, it seemed natural to go to law school, where I wrote for the Harvard Law Review and the Journal on Public Policy and Politics. After graduating, I clerked for two judges: Judge Michael Luttig on the Fourth Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals, and the late Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist on the U.S. Supreme Court.

    After finishing my clerkships, I had a strong desire to work in federal government, and so I served as Domestic Policy Advisor to President George W. Bush on the Bush-Cheney campaign, advising President Bush on a wide range of policy and legal matters, including civil justice, criminal justice, constitutional law, immigration, and government reform. During the infamous Florida presidential recount that ensued, I helped assemble the Bush legal team, devising legal strategy and drafting pleadings in the Florida and U.S. Supreme Courts. After President Bush successfully took office, I was appointed as an Associate Deputy Attorney General at the Department of Justice before serving as the Director of the Office of Policy Planning for the Federal Trade Commission.

    Since 2003, I have been serving as the Solicitor General for the state of Texas, and as a litigator, I have authored over seventy U.S. Supreme Court briefs and presented twenty-six oral arguments, including six in the U.S. Supreme Court. My team of appellate lawyers handles a variety of issues like Texas school finance, the Pledge of Allegiance, congressional redistricting, the death penalty, due process, and abortion policies, and honestly, my job is a lot of fun. It’s hard to think of a more challenging and rewarding career than representing the state of Texas, and in the long term, I believe that politics and political involvement can make a real difference in people’s lives.

    The best advice I can give to prospective appellate lawyers is to continuously practice and prepare. Swim in your cases and research them relentlessly. Read the briefs other parties have filed and devour the record. Practice moots as often as possible and don’t be afraid to take a few hits because appellate cases often will leave you battled and bloody. Most of all, no matter what happens, never compromise your principles because your credibility is the single most important asset that you have. If justices don’t trust what you’re saying in court, you’re doomed. Lastly, evolving into the best lawyer that you can be is a lifelong experience of learning and watching those who excel at their craft. Be patient and always on the look-out for mentors and teachers who can give you a better view of the law.

  • Kathryn Biber Chen, HLS ’04
    General Counsel, Romney for President Campaign

    I was involved in politics beginning in college and continuing in the years between college and law school. After working on the Bush-Cheney effort in 2000, I served in the public affairs office at the Department of Justice until I started law school in late 2001. While in law school, I was president of the HLS Republicans, Executive Editor of the Journal on Law and Public Policy, and active in the Federalist Society. I also chaired the Media/Communications committee of the Public Interest Auction. After graduation, it seemed natural to marry my love of politics with my love of the law. Election law is a fairly narrow and cyclical field, but it is a terrific way to contribute your legal skills to the issues and causes you care about.

    During my years in law school and since, I’ve worked at the Republican National Committee, the Department of Justice, and for various members of Congress such as Senator Kit Bond (R-MO), then-Senator John Ashcroft (R- MO), and Representative Jo Ann Emerson (R-MO8). I also served in the general counsel’s office at Bush-Cheney ’04.

    Currently, I am the general counsel to the Romney for President Campaign. As general counsel of the Romney campaign, I manage the campaign’s in-house legal office. As you might imagine, my primary responsibility is overseeing our federal and state election law compliance. However, a large portion of my job requires me to deal with the broad range of legal issues that any Massachusetts corporation would face (e.g. tax, corporate, employment, trademark/copyright, etc.).

    My primary specialty is election law, which means I have counseled clients on Federal Election Commission and Internal Revenue Service regulations, state disclosure rules, and state and federal ethics laws. I have worked for numerous campaigns, including the 2000 Bush-Cheney effort, Bush-Cheney ’04, and multiple House, gubernatorial, and Senate races. Prior to law school, I also served as assistant press secretary to Senator Kit Bond during his 1998 reelection battle and as a press assistant to Attorney General John Ashcroft shortly after he took the reins of DOJ.

    The best part of my job – and previous ones, as well – is helping the campaign reach its goals within the restraints of the law. A lazy election lawyer says “no, you can’t do that, it’s illegal.” The best skill a young lawyer can develop is an attention to detail and accuracy. The law can be learned on the fly, but ingrained sloppiness can rarely be erased. Beginning in law school and at summer jobs, give every project your best effort, and never attempt to take a shortcut. I’ve seen smart young law students derailed because they were just a little too careless.

    Second, although this advice goes against what seems to be a developing trend in the field at large, I urge law students to develop “generalist” skills. When I am hiring people, I look for individuals who can draft a contract, negotiate a lease, answer an employment question, or review an FEC report. This model may be a little outdated, but it’s the best way to be successful as an in-house attorney. Even at a law firm, clients often demand that you step outside your “specialty” comfort zone, so you should be prepared to do so.

    Third, despite the self-importance of many in the field of law, law students must realize “the law” does not exist in a vacuum. For instance, the average political or nonprofit client must balance a wide variety of divergent interests: cost, public attention, and legal imperatives. Sometimes the best public relations choice is the worst legal choice, and vice versa. Sometimes you will have to explain to a client that they must comply with the law despite their desire to bend it. In short, don’t be a lawyer fit to be parodied in Dilbert. It is your job as an attorney to understand your client’s mentality and specific needs when offering advice, and to approach problems with a dose of common sense.

    One HLS law clerk I supervised last semester understood this principle with a maturity beyond his years. I had asked him to research an arcane issue of state law and produce an answer to a difficult question. A less experienced law clerk would have stopped after finding the correct statutory provision. He did not. He unearthed ancient attorney general opinions, located multiple court cases that other law clerks did not find, found relevant newspaper articles involving other politicians, and ultimately arrived at an answer belying his then-minimal legal training. Instead of simply following a standard research checklist, he recognized the political realities the campaign faced and proposed an answer that was legally correct but also not politically foolhardy. It took a mature student to synthesize these sometimes divergent goals.

    Fourth, recognize that firms are not practitioners of the Dark Arts. They are often terrific places to gain training, witness the press of demanding partners, and understand what it is like to engage in client service. Contrary to popular belief, it’s even possible to work for the issues and causes you care about from an associate office. Prior to joining the campaign I was an associate at the Washington law firm of Patton Boggs, and some of the best experiences I’ve had as a lawyer took place during my time there.

    Finally, – and I realize this may seem trite, but it’s important – I advise all students to seek advice from those who have gone before them. I have found success in politics not because I am a genius, but because I have had the help of several generous and wise mentors along the way. Similarly, once you have reached a point where you can offer assistance to others, it is your responsibility to do so. I spend a lot of time fielding phone calls from law students or young political hacks interested in law school, and I make it a point to help talented people succeed.

    Honestly, the reason I love my job so much is that my answer to this question will change on a weekly basis. I frequently come home from work having had the “best” day I’ve ever had professionally, and my goal is for this to continue for the rest of my career.

  • Michael Rosman, Yale Law ’94
    Chief Counsel, Center for Individual Rights

    After finishing law school and spending 9 years in private practice in New York, I sort of came into my current job by happenstance. I was having a conversation with the then Executive Director of the Center for Individual Rights (CIR), Michael Greve, and he recommended for me to apply for a position, and, after an interview and discussion with him, I decided it would be a good change for me. About a year and a half later, I was promoted to chief counsel where I have been for the past several years.

    CIR is a public interest law firm that specializes in free speech and civil rights litigation, and during my time here, we have filed briefs and argued in court over a tremendous variety of issues, including race preferences in university admissions (Gratz v. Bollinger, Grutter v. Bollinger, Hopwood v. Texas, BAMN v. Granholm in the 6th Circuit) and limited federal powers (United States v. Morrison). Litigation in politically-charged cases has the disadvantage of making many of the litigation skills I’ve developed over the years relatively unimportant. Frequently, the results of any case depend more on the luck of the judicial draw rather than my skill as an attorney. For example, in cases that concern race-based or sex-based preferences in distributing government benefits, many judges already have preconceived notions of the propriety of what is often referred to as “affirmative action” (even though that phrase is somewhat misapplied for that purpose). It is often difficult to move them from those preconceived positions regardless of one’s skill.

    Nevertheless, one of the highlights of my time at CIR was getting the opportunity to argue before the Supreme Court in United States v. Morrison. The decision examined the limits of Congress’s power to make laws under the Commerce Clause and the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution and ruled that a controversial piece of legislation was unconstitutional because it was an overextension of congressional power.

    A “typical day” usually involves a good deal of reading and writing of one kind or another, and communicating with other attorneys through e-mail and by telephone. We have attorney meetings here at CIR, but there are days, not all that infrequent, when we do not necessarily have a great deal of contact with one another because we are working on different things.

    For prospective public interest lawyers, litigation skills of all kinds (taking depositions, oral arguments, writing briefs) are important. I might emphasize taking a course or courses in Constitutional Torts, the scope of 42 U.S.C. sect. 1983, and attorney-fee shifting statutes like 42 U.S.C. sect. 1988. Other than that, general litigation skills and an understanding of civil procedure are important, including knowledge of jurisdiction, and the rules of evidence. Since constitutional litigation is usually not very fact intensive, the ability to write well and analyze cases are probably the most important skills to develop. One can do that in a variety of settings, including government work and large firm practice.

  • Jennifer Bradley, HLS ’94
    Summer Intern, Office of the Solicitor General & Office of Legal Policy, Department of Justice

    After graduating from college, I worked in DC as a research assistant to an HLS grad, who at the time was specializing in bioethics and human rights. Living in Washington and working with him that year really allowed me to begin to see all of the great things lawyers can do for the public and all of the doors that a J.D. opens. During my first year at Harvard Law School, I got involved with Harvard Defenders and I focused my summer job search solely on government work, because of my strong interest in public interest law.

    This summer I worked first at the Office of Legal Policy (OLP), and then at the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG), both at the Department of Justice. Although a small office, OLP takes a leading role in vetting nominees to the federal bench, and each of its attorneys also has developed expertise in particular policy areas that are priorities for the government. Each attorney comments on proposed legislation falling within his or her area of expertise and collaborates with representatives of other governmental agencies to develop a coherent and coordinated government response to issues such as human trafficking, ID theft, and immigration.

    OSG’s attorneys are best known for representing the government in the Supreme Court. The office is also responsible for preparing amicus briefs for cases in which the government is not a party, but has a substantial interest, for making recommendations to the Supreme Court regarding cases in which cert ought to be granted, and for making the final decision on whether to appeal cases in which the government has lost in a lower court. While at OLP, the issue on which I worked most was human trafficking. Combating human trafficking both domestically and internationally is a major priority for the administration, and offices and agencies across the government have been making a concerted effort to fight this form of modern-day slavery. I worked on updating the annual Assessment of U.S. Government Efforts to Combat Trafficking in Persons, which is coordinated and compiled by OLP, and I was able to attend a Congressional briefing on the issue as well as a welcome luncheon for the State Department’s new anti-trafficking Ambassador. Since switching over to OSG, I’ve contributed research on a variety of issues for several briefs that will be filed in cases heard at the Supreme Court this term. Probably the best-known issue on which I’ve gotten to spend some time is the Bush administration’s Terrorist Surveillance Program. The program is being challenged in the Ninth Circuit in a case called Hepting v. AT&T; because of its obvious sensitivity and high priority, the government has intervened and OSG is participating in the case.

    I’ve been very impressed by the dedication of the lawyers with whom I’ve worked at DOJ this summer. The attorneys I’ve met are highly skilled and have incredibly impressive backgrounds, and many of them left very lucrative jobs in law firms – in some cases, left firms at which they’d made partner – in order to work for the American people at a much lower salary and without all of the perks that are a standard part of the law firm lifestyle. They are enthusiastic about their work and don’t ever seem to regret making the choices that they have, and I think for me that has been the greatest testament to the importance of public interest work.

  • Clint Bolick, University of California, Davis Law ’82
    Director, Center of Constitutional Litigation, Goldwater Institute

    My interest in public interest impact litigation began when I fell in love with Constitutional Law as an undergraduate. Once I entered law school, I learned as much as I could by participating heavily in moot court, clerking for the Pacific Legal Foundation, taking Local Government, and clerking for a state trial judge. After law school, I started my first job as an attorney at the Mountain States Legal Foundation before moving on to become a Special Assistant at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. During my career, I have also spent time at the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice, the Landmark Legal Foundation Center for Civil Rights, the Institute for Justice, and the Alliance for School Choice.

    Currently I am serving at the Goldwater Institute as the Director for the Center of Constitutional Litigation in Arizona. The Center of Constitutional Litigation is a libertarian policy organization that litigates state constitutional issues on the issues of school choice, the barriers to entrepreneurship, eminent domain, and racial classification.

    For students interested in libertarian policy litigation, we have summer clerks and externs during the school year. A good grasp of constitutional law, excellent research skills, and an understanding of the practicalities of litigation are useful. In addition, I have written a book called Voucher Wars: Waging the Legal Battle over School Choice, which is a primer on public interest litigation. It is sometimes difficult to transition from public interest law to private sector law, but generally the converse is not true, so long as you don’t lose your creativity and passion along the way.

    The favorite part of my job is that I am attempting to trail-blaze in state constitutional law. Arguing in the US Supreme Court and representing Davids against Goliath is a total rush! Walking the hallways of inner-city private schools and watching kids do well who previously were written off by the system—and knowing that I had something to do with protecting their right to be there—is enormously gratifying. The payoff in public interest law is psychological, but I wouldn’t trade it for any other remuneration.

  • Paul Taylor, HLS ’94
    Chief Minority Counsel for the House Judiciary Committee, Subcommittee on the Constitution

    I was always interested in public policy, starting in college where I majored in Political Science. During law school, I was an Executive Editor for the Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy, which during my third year published an article of mine concerning the reform of the law of punitive damages. After graduating from law school, I became a Counsel for the House Subcommittee on the Constitution in 1999, and in 2003, I became Chief Counsel of the Constitution Subcommittee, where I have been the Chief Republican Counsel since January, 2007.

    As Chief Republican Counsel for the Constitution Subcommittee, I draft legislative text, amendments, committee reports, and other informational materials for Republicans and their staffs. The issues within the jurisdiction of the Subcommittee include ethics reform, voting and civil rights, religious liberty, free speech, property rights, and other issues with constitutional law components. I also handle legal reform issues for the Republicans on the full House Judiciary Committee. At the subcommittee, I work on issues related to the protection of property rights, initiatives to ensure that religious organizations are allowed to compete for federal social service funds on an equal basis with non- religious organizations, among other things. I also work on issues related to legal reform and litigation management. Generally, legislation receives a hearing and a markup at a subcommittee before legislation is marked up at the full committee. Counsels help draft legislation, or amendments to legislation, write and research legislative Committee Reports (the documents that embody the Committee’s official view on legislation), and generally educate Members and their staffs regarding the need for and significance of various pieces of legislation. If legislation is favorably reported out by the full committee, subcommittee counsels who have worked on the legislation generally facilitate its progress through the House of Representatives, often culminating in a vote on the legislation by the full House and a potential subsequent conference with the Senate. Subcommittees also conduct oversight, which may involve sending information requests to various federal agencies, and the holding of hearings to gather information.

    I have helped shepherd the following pieces of legislation through Congress, all of which were enacted into law: the SAFETY Act (part of the Homeland Security Act of 2002, which provides legal protection for manufacturers of anti- terrorism technologies to encourage their more widespread deployment); the 2006 reauthorization of the Voting Rights Act (which prevents discrimination in voting); the Unborn Victims of Violence Act (which makes murdering an unborn child during the commission of a federal violent crime subject to a separate chargeable offence); the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (which protects gun manufacturers from lawsuits in which the alleged harm was caused not by the gun manufacturers, but by those who criminally or unlawfully misused guns); and the Respect for America’s Fallen Heroes Act (which prohibits demonstrations near military funerals on federal property).

    The best part of my job is working for principled Congressional leaders to achieve legislative reforms that improve the status quo by enhancing individual liberty. Working for a congressional committee also allows one to develop a more detailed understanding of specialized legal issues.

    My experience helping get the SAFETY Act enacted has been especially gratifying for me because it has proven so effective in encouraging the deployment of anti-terrorism technologies that it enjoys overwhelming bipartisan support. On January 22, 2007, H.R. 599, a bill directing the Secretary of Homeland Security to streamline the SAFETY Act and anti-terrorism technology procurement processes to make the legislation even more effective, passed the House by a vote of 427-0.

    Speaking and writing clearly are probably the most important skills one can bring to work on Capitol Hill. You can never be sure you understand something yourself until you can explain even quite complicated legislation to a college intern and see that they’ve come to understand it themselves. Members need to be thoroughly informed, and often they need clear, concise information at a moment’s notice. Public interest lawyers working for Congress must ensure that legislative language reflects the intent of Congress as articulated to the public, while also communicating the intent of the legislation clearly to courts. Crafting language that is both understandable to the voting public and to courts is a key part of being an effective public interest lawyer working for Congress. Equally important is an ability to communicate clearly and effectively. One must be able to transmit comprehensive information quickly to maximize the chances that legislation will pass. No matter what issues one works on, one should maintain a document that contains just about everything one knows about the issue, accurately sourced to the relevant source materials, so it can be drawn on at a moment’s notice.

    Political experience is also important in obtaining a position with a Member or a committee on Capitol Hill. That’s because Members want to have people working for them who share their motivation to accomplish legislative reform in a political environment. Having particular beliefs that resonate with those of a political party or a Member is often necessary but not sufficient because only through demonstrated work with political organizations, political campaigns, and advocacy groups does one show the requisite commitment to turning ideas into results in the political process.

    I would recommend working for several years as a private lawyer before working for a public sector or public policy organization or institution. That’s because one can most effectively advocate reforms to the legal system if one has actually worked under the rules that currently govern that legal system and obtained a good understanding of what works and what doesn’t work in the current system, and why. Also, saving some money, and becoming financially secure and debt-free, goes a long way toward ensuring a smooth transition from the private sector to the public sector.

  • Bill Saunders, HLS ’80
    Senior Fellow in Bioethics and Human Rights Counsel, The Family Research Council

    The Family Research Council is what may be described as a “pro-family” organization. We work to protect and defend the family, and to defend human life. My position is senior fellow and director of the Center for Human Life & Bioethics. I am also human rights legal counsel. My primary focus is in the area of bioethics, but I work on issues related to abortion and euthanasia as well. We work with Congress and the executive branch to develop, shape and advance legislation. We also engage in efforts to educate citizens in the various states. I have done a significant amount of work on religious freedom around the world, and served on a U.S. delegation to a UN conference on the family. I have also helped organize, and have spoken at, several international conferences on the family. My most memorable experience in public interest law has been my role in documenting genocide in Sudan, and in making this an issue of U.S. public policy. I headed several trips to Sudan to document the persecution which Christians and others in the Nuba Mountains and Dinka areas were experiencing at the hands of their own government. We were able to capture on film the bombing of innocent civilians, and recorded extensive interviews with people who had been enslaved, including children. Another great part of my work is being centrally involved in the debate over the ethics of human cloning and stem cell research.

    There is no typical day when you work in public interest law! I usually arrive at the office around 7 am and leave around 6 pm. I might have meetings with Congressional or Administration officials to attend, or have meetings at the State Department or with other groups with whom I work in coalition. I might review proposed state legislation or draft the same. Sometimes I review federal legislation or meet with Congressional leaders to discuss crafting a bill on a particular matter. I might work on an article I am writing, or on a chapter for a book. Or work on one of the regular columns for several journals and web pages, including National Public Radio’s “Justice Talking.” I might work on an upcoming lecture to be given in the U.S. or abroad, or on a brief for state or federal court, including the U.S. Supreme Court. I will meet with my research assistants and interns daily to go over projects. Some days I have interviews for TV, radio, or newspapers.

    Our primary task is developing public arguments and shaping legislation. The most important qualities are intellect and dedication. A law student should have an internship with us to see if what we do is what she or he wants to do.

    By way of background, I joined the Washington Office of the Lawyers Committee for Human Rights in 1994. While there, I focused primarily on issues surrounding human rights treaties, religious freedom, and civil society.

    I also did significant work on human rights in Egypt, China and Albania.

    Three years later, I joined the staff of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, where my focus was on religious freedom in the United States. I also worked in a private firm in D.C., and taught at a law school before my present job. I founded and led a nonprofit relief organization for many years. I find that all these experiences helped prepare me to do what I am doing. However, as you can see, it is hard to make this a road map for others. My advice is to follow your heart. Find work that matters to you. Since doing so means making decisions most others don’t make, I’m afraid each has to find his or her own way. Public interest jobs are few and hard to find. Law firms pay law students handsomely. So a student who wants to do public interest law has to be willing to sacrifice, and to work his way up. Perseverance and a sense of purpose are the best tools. It also helps to be in a city like D.C. where many of the jobs are and where one can network.

  • Hans Bader, HLS ’94
    Counsel for Special Projects, Competitive Enterprise Institute

    Before law school, I contemplated public interest law, and after several years in the private sector, I left for the Center for Individual Rights in Washington, D.C. where I used to handle First Amendment cases (freedom of speech and religion), federalism cases, and challenges to affirmative action policies (under antidiscrimination statutes and the Equal Protection Clause) before moving onto the Department of Education, where I served as Attorney-Advisor for the Office of Civil Rights. Since then, I have become Counsel for Special Projects at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, a nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing the principles of free enterprise and limited government.

    At CEI, I currently am bringing a couple of constitutional lawsuits under obscure provisions of the Constitution: the Compact Clause (challenging a multi-state tobacco settlement) and the Appointments Clause (challenging a board set up by the Sarbanes-Oxley law). In addition, I also file amicus briefs with the Supreme Court. This term, I filed one brief that challenged the Seattle School’s race–based student assignments, which the Supreme Court struck down in June in a 5-to-4 decision in Parents Involved in Community Schools v. Seattle School District No. 1 and another one that supported federal preemption of state banking laws (the Watters v. Wachovia case, which preempted state regulation in another 5-to-4 decision).

    My advice for prospective public interest lawyers is to work long enough in other sectors to get decent training in how to practice law. Learn practical litigation skills and the federal rules of civil procedure (which heavily influences most state civil procedure codes). Mastering the rules is dull, but it will save you plenty of pain later on. Furthermore, learn to write cleanly; get to the point, and don’t let the need to cite cases clutter things up. Many junior associates and summer interns have writing that is unbelievably turgid, disorganized, or repetitive. Less important, but still very important, is to learn constitutional and administrative law.

  • Daniel Lyons, HLS ’05
    Summer Law Intern, New England Legal Foundation

    My FYL instructor first suggested public interest work to me as an alternative to spending my first 1L summer in the stuffy confines of a law firm. Because I knew I would be putting in a lot of firm time in the near future, and because firm jobs were very hard to come by for 1Ls in Boston this year, I sent a cover letter to the New England Legal Foundation and received an unpaid summer internship, which I funded through a work study grant. To prepare for the position, I researched NELF’s main areas of expertise, and worked to develop my legal writing and research skills during my 1L year. I am currently one of three law clerks with the New England Legal Foundation. Each clerk assists NELF’s three staff attorneys on various litigation-related projects. Each attorney has one active case in the office, and each also works on a series of side projects and publications to advance legal discourse in general. The law clerks divide their time assisting both endeavors.

    The primary case NELF is handling is Palazzolo v. Rhode Island, a landmark property rights case on remand from the U.S. Supreme Court. Anthony Palazzolo owns 18 acres on Winnapaug Pond in Rhode Island, which he has been prohibited from developing due to local wetlands protections regulations. He has challenged the regulation as an unconstitutional regulatory taking, and is seeking compensation. The case was before the U.S. Supreme Court in 2001, where it set a milestone in regulatory takings law by holding that regulatory takings claims are transferable—i.e., the fact that the regulation was in effect when the owner bought the property is not an automatic bar to a regulatory takings claim. The case was originally tried as a Lucas categorical takings claim, but is now being retried in Rhode Island as a Penn Central balancing test claim, in accordance with U.S. Supreme Court instructions.

    Working alongside impassioned and like-minded attorneys to develop Anthony Palazzolo’s best strategies to win his regulatory takings claim is the most exciting aspect of my internship. I have taken a substantial interest in property rights cases, so the chance to assist the retrial of one of the seminal cases in takings law was, for me, an opportunity not to be passed up.

    I have also been involved in planning two NELF conferences, one on the future of confidential settlement agreements in the wake of the Catholic Church scandal, and one on modifying union disclosure laws to match the rigorous reporting requirements that Sarbanes-Oxley requires of corporations. Both are the subject of pending state and federal legislation.

    Finally, I have penned or edited several articles that NELF has distributed for publication, including a piece on proposed changes to Labor Department overtime regulations, and the effects of the Supreme Court’s decision in Green Tree v. Bazzle on the prospect of class-action arbitration. I am currently drafting a memo to a senior attorney regarding the “denominator problem” that requires a broad literature search in regulatory takings cases, the question of how to define the relevant parcel to determine what has been taken by the government.

  • Emilie Kao, HLS ’99
    Director of International Advocacy, The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty

    After my 1L year, a classmate told me about a women’s legal center in Beijing supported by the Ford Foundation. Although I had an offer to work for a law firm that summer, I knew that I would probably do that at some point down the road and that this was a great opportunity to learn about the Chinese legal system. Thanks to financing from OPIA and the public interest auction, it was a terrific and very humbling learning experience. Working for a grassroots women’s legal organization allowed me to see what Chinese lawyers face in fighting for women’s rights in a country where legal consciousness and “rule of law” are still in the early stages. That really shaped my attitude towards law school during my last two years, so if you have any opportunity early on to do public interest work (and can manage it financially), it can benefit your career in the long-term, but also your perspective on what YOU want to learn in law school.

    I now work for the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty in Washington D.C. I’ve been here only two months so my job is still “under construction,” but essentially I spend about half my time on domestic litigation and the other half on international advocacy, including litigation, and potentially other components, like media and government relations. The Becket Fund is already well known in the United States for its innovative religious liberties litigation on behalf of all faiths. We believe that religious freedom is a fundamental human right and our clients represent the entire spectrum of faith, from Anglicans to Zoroastrians. It’s a terrific vision (in my opinion) and one that I’m eager to see develop on an international level.

    There are so many different kinds of cases that we take on in the name of religious liberty. I couldn’t do justice to them all, so I’d refer students to the website to get a better idea of the types of cases we handle. Something that isn’t obvious from the outset is how multi-faceted this organization is. In addition to litigation that is based in DC, we also have an academic arm, The Becket Institute at Oxford University, which has sponsored our three international conferences in Rome, Jerusalem, and Prague. The vision of the Becket Fund is that religious freedom is the institute that brings together scholars and clergy from different faiths to dialogue about the basis for freedom in their own religious traditions. The fruit of that dialogue is the message that we try to bring to the court of law, the court of public opinion and the academy.

    During my two months here, the organization has had several high-profile cases, all of which can be found on our website. I am looking forward to getting involved in more of these cases and also to finding new avenues of advocacy for religious freedom internationally, particularly at the United Nations.

    Prior to coming to Becket, I was a legal officer at the United Nations Compensation Commission in Geneva where I worked on compensation claims against Iraq arising from the invasion of Kuwait. In addition to learning about an area of international law which I had a strong personal interest in (having majored in Middle Eastern studies as an undergraduate), it also gave me great exposure to the United Nations and to the “internationalist” perspective. I think that has been very helpful in teaching me how much culture informs the way that we view law and rights and has also better prepared me to respond to attacks on religious freedom that come from different quarters.

  • Raffi Melkonian, HLS ’05
    Summer Intern, Department of Justice, Criminal Division, Domestic Security Section (DSS)

    Like many other students, I wanted to use the 1L summer to do something on the public interest side of things so that I would be able to compare it with private firm life after 2L. I spent my summer working for the Criminal Division of the Department of Justice, in the Domestic Security Section (DSS). DSS handles violent crime and immigration related crimes, rather than immigration violations (which are dealt with by what used to be the Immigration and Naturalization Service). I can’t say I had any special preparation for this position, apart from vaguely paying attention in Criminal Law.

    As a summer intern I shared a comfortable, if windowless, office with a fellow intern. My work often involved calling or visiting other lawyers, sometimes in other parts of the government bureaucracy (at the Department of Homeland Security, for example). Very often a lawyer would come by my office with a little something to do as well, though the office policy was that larger projects would be funneled through the coordinator (actually a senior litigator) just to assure an even distribution of work. A couple of times a week, I was also taken out for coffee, or perhaps even lunch. The most important case I worked on this summer is the Texas alien smuggling murder case, where 18 illegal aliens were killed when trapped in a hot truck for hours. DSS was helping prosecute the alien smugglers, seeking the death penalty under the appropriate criminal statute. I largely worked on motions to potentially bring the prosecution to Washington, D.C. Interestingly, I learned that the Texas alien smuggling case is sort of symptomatic, if only in a symbolic way, of the new trend in alien smuggling. Because of increased Coast Guard awareness off our own seas, South American alien smugglers have gone to using a circuitous route from the continent to Mexico by ship, and then through Mexico by truck. This has resulted in a steadily increasing number of such deaths, and an increasing opportunity for the death penalty to be requested by federal prosecutors.

    Although there are many experiences to relate from my summer at DOJ one stands out. One of the grimmer (but still friendly) lawyers came by my office one day and threw a brief at my desk. I looked at the motion and after reading all the cases cited, I realized very little of it made any sense at all. Actually, it seemed to me like complete nonsense, as if a third grader had written it or something. But being a law student, I wasn’t sure, and so I spent another couple of hours on it before giving up and going over to tell her that I didn’t understand any of it. Thankfully, she looked up, squinted at me, and sort of said something like “yeah. That’s what I thought. It’s awful.” We ended up writing a response that mostly restated the Restatement of Contracts. My role by the end mainly consisted of moderating the actual lawyer’s rather angry prose.

    As to the political and policy side of working at DOJ, DSS both on its own volition, and due to commands coming down from the top of DOJ, is aggressive as to its mission. Nor does it shrink from demanding high penalties for crime. Regardless of your political views, being in an office with great lawyers was really helpful. The least experienced prosecutor had 16 years of experience, and you can really absorb a lot of good knowledge. They were also fantastic people. They treated all the interns and other support staff with a lot of respect (and kindness), and they made sure we two law clerks got excellent work. I would highly recommend a summer internship at DOJ.

  • Lee Rudofsky, HLS ’95
    Legal Intern, White House Counsel’s Office

    As a legal intern in the office of the Counsel to the President of the United States, I assisted the nine Associate Counsels to the President in research and analysis on various issues of current importance. My work in the Public International Law course I took at Harvard allowed me to help out the White House Counsel’s office in the area of foreign relations, international agreements, and free trade. Additionally, my membership in the Harvard Law School Republicans, the Federalist Society, and the Journal of Law and Public Policy helped expose me to many of the current legal/political issues I would be dealing with in this position.

    The best part of working at the White House Counsel’s office is that you never know what issues are going to arise. Your work deals with almost every area of government imaginable. The typical workday at the White House for interns is from 8 AM until 6 PM. Other than the hours, no day is typical. Your work really depends upon what the White House Counsels need at a given moment – it is very reactive. One hour might be spent answering correspondence. The next hour you might be writing a memorandum on a potential Presidential nominee or participating in a West Wing policy discussion on any number of topics including domestic policy and foreign affairs.

    The most memorable experience of my internship was sitting in a West Wing meeting with rather important people and realizing that my comments and suggestions were not only being taken seriously, but were actually helping to shape policy. On a less professional side, I must say that meeting the President of the United States after he alighted from Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House was pretty memorable as well.

    I would highly recommend this internship to any law student interested in a government or public policy career. The best advice I can give to law students interested in a White House experience is to be persistent and pursue the opportunity as early as possible in the year prior to the internship.

Selected Organizations

The list below is broken down into sixteen categories of public interest organizations. Please note that this list is not all-inclusive, but highlights a number of the organizations most receptive to paid and volunteer positions, including part-time and full-time positions, fellowships, and summer internships.

Litigating organizations are designated by the symbol (L) at the beginning of each organization description.

  • Civil Liberties: Free Speech / Right to Bear Arms / Racial Preferences

    Free speech issues continue to be of great concern to the conservative agenda. Hot issues include regulation of commercial speech, and free speech and election law. The Shadow University examines the extent to which free speech is protected and valued by civil society at large and describes the struggle for liberty on American campuses as one of the defining struggles of the age in which we find ourselves.7 Libertarian interest groups, like the National Rifle Association, support their top objectives – in the case of the NRA, the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms – through advertisement, grassroots organizations, and litigation.

    American Civil Rights Institute (ACRI)
    Sacramento, CA
    The American Civil Rights Institute is a national, nonprofit organization dedicated to educating the American public about the problems created by racial and gender preferences in government programs and policies. ACRI members believe that civil rights are individual rights, and that government policies should not advocate group rights over individual rights.

    Center for Individual Rights (CIR)
    Washington, DC
    (L) CIR is a nonprofit public interest law firm established in 1989 to advance a broad, civil libertarian agenda. It accomplishes its mission through direct litigation of precedent-setting cases in fields like freedom of speech, civil rights, political correctness in higher education, disparate treatment of religious groups and sexual harassment law. The cases they have successfully litigated include Lamprecht v. FCC (federal agency preference scheme struck down); Hopwood v. Texas, 5th Cir. (race may not be considered in university admissions); Rosenberg v. Rector and Visitors of the Univ. of VA (uphold rights of religious magazine to participate in neutral funding scheme); and Reno v. Bossier Parish School District (striking down forced racial gerrymandering).

    Claremont Institute
    Claremont, CA
    The mission of the Claremont Institute is to restore the principles of the American Founding to their rightful, preeminent authority in our national life. Claremont publishes numerous books, policy briefings, conducts conferences and seminars on various issues including ballistic missile defense, The American Founding, family and culture, civil rights and racial preferences.

    Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI)
    Washington, DC
    CEI is a nonprofit, non-partisan public policy research and advocacy institute dedicated to the principles of free enterprise and limited government. The organization was founded in March 1984 and in 1986 it began its free market legal program, which seeks to overturn government regulations that CEI regards as inappropriate, pertaining to drug safety, rent control, automobile fuel efficiency, e- commerce, anti-trust and intellectual property rights. Areas of specialization include environment, technology, electronic privacy, regulation, health, and safety.

    Institute for Humane Studies
    Arlington, VA
    Founded in 1961, the mission of IHS is to support the achievement of a freer society by discovering and facilitating the development of talented, productive students, scholars, and other intellectuals who share an interest in liberty and who demonstrate the potential to help change the current climate of opinion to one more congenial to the principles and practice of freedom. The Institute promotes the study of liberty across a broad range of disciplines including academia, journalism, policy, and film, encouraging understanding, open inquiry, rigorous scholarship, and creative problem-solving.

    Institute for Justice (IJ)
    Washington, DC
    (L) A nonprofit libertarian public interest law firm that litigates cases to secure economic liberty, school choice, private property rights, freedom of speech, and other vital individual liberties and to restore constitutional limits on the power of government. The Institute also trains law students, lawyers, and policy activists in the tactics of public interest litigation to advance individual rights.

    The James Madison Institute
    Tallahassee, FL
    A Florida-based non-partisan, nonprofit research and educational organization dedicated to advancing economic freedom, education reform, limited government, federalism, traditional values, the rule of law, and individual liberty. The Institute focuses only on Florida law.

    Landmark Legal Foundation
    Leesburg, VA
    (L) The Foundation litigates constitutional and individual liberty cases involving school choice, free enterprise, public integrity, private property rights, free speech and tax limitation.

    National Rifle Association
    Fairfax, VA
    The NRA protects the right to keep and bear arms and trains thousands of law enforcement members and law-abiding citizens on safe and responsible firearms ownership. Issues include defending second amendment rights and criminal justice reform, and the operation of the Institute for Legislative Action.

    National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation
    Springfield, VA
    (L)The National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation is a nonprofit, charitable, organization providing free legal aid to employees whose human or civil rights have been violated by compulsory unionism abuses.

    United States Justice Foundation
    Escondido, CA
    (L) Legal action organization dedicated to litigate and instruct, inform and educate the public on significant legal issues confronting America. Areas of experience include education, parental rights, property rights, First Amendment rights of pro-life picketers, privacy rights, and government harassment of government critics.

  • Constitution / Federalism

    American Legislative Exchange Council
    Washington, DC
    A Washington-based public policy council dedicated to advancing the Jeffersonian principles of free markets, limited government, federalism, and individual liberty through a non-partisan partnership among America’s state legislators and concerned members of the private sector, the federal government, and the public interest.

    Federalist Society for Law and Public Policy Studies
    Washington, DC
    (L) The Federalist Society is a conservative/libertarian organization interested in promotion of awareness of the constitution and the federalism principles. It is founded on the principles that the state exists to preserve freedom, that the separation of governmental powers is central to our Constitution, and that it is emphatically the province and duty of the judiciary to say what the law is, not what it should be. In working to achieve these goals, the Society has created a conservative and libertarian intellectual network that extends to all levels of the legal community.

    The Goldwater Institute
    Phoenix, AZ
    Founded in 1988 by a small group of entrepreneurial Arizonians with the Blessing of Sen. Barry Goldwater. The Institute shares a belief in the innate dignity of individual human beings, that America is a nation that grew great through the ambition of regular men and women. The Institute sponsors the Center for Constitutional Litigation, the Center for Economic Prosperity and the Center for Educational Opportunity.

  • Counterterrorism / Defense / Homeland Security

    American Enterprise Institute
    Washington, DC
    Founded in 1943, it is one of the oldest and most highly regarded conservative research institutes in Washington, DC. The conservative-leaning research institute features a number of prominent in-house legal scholars, political scientists, and foreign policy experts. The AEI website has an overwhelming amount of material on a wide variety of issues. AEI publishes the magazine, The American Enterprise. AEI also established the Federalism Project to explore opportunities to restore federalism that limits the national government power and compels states to compete for their citizen’s assets, talent, and business. The issues it addresses include limited government, private enterprise, political institutions, a strong foreign and national defense policy, and economic policy.

    Counterterrorism Section, National Security Division, U.S. Department of Justice
    To address terrorism both at home and overseas, the U.S. Department of Justice established the Counterterrorism Section of the National Security Division. Its goal is to design, implement and support law enforcement efforts, legislative initiatives, policies and strategies relating to combating international and domestic terrorism. The Section seeks to assist in preventing and disrupting acts of terrorism that may occur anywhere in the world which impact on significant U.S. interests and persons through investigation and prosecution.

    The Heritage Foundation
    Washington, DC
    America’s leading conservative think tank. Heritage addresses the full spectrum of political issues, both national and international. It was founded in 1973 to formulate and promote conservative public policies based on the principles of free enterprise, limited government, individual freedom, traditional American values, and a strong national defense.

    The Nixon Center
    Washington, DC
    A bipartisan public policy institution formed by former President Richard Nixon in January 1994, The Nixon Center is committed to the analysis of challenges to United States policy through the prism of American national interest. The specific goal of the Center is to explore ways of enhancing American security and prosperity while taking into account the legitimate perspectives of other nations. It is the Center’s objective to work on developing new guiding principles for United States global engagement in a dramatically new international environment, the principles that would combine hard-headed pragmatism and fundamental American values.

    U.S. Department of Defense
    For students interested in defense and military operations, the Department of Defense has opportunities for summer internships in Washington, D.C. and in other offices nationwide. International legal opportunities with the Department of Defense are usually reserved for law school graduates. Listed in this section are strong national defense, foreign policy and international relations public policy organizations.

    U.S. Department of Homeland Security
    Washington, DC
    The Republican Administration established the Office of Homeland Security in October 2001. Its successor, the Department of Homeland Security created in November 2002, combines federal agencies responsible for border and transportation security emergency preparedness and response, chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear countermeasures, and information analysis and infrastructure protection.

  • Criminal Justice

    In the criminal area, conservative public interest law has focused on a balance between the rights of criminals and the rights of victims of crime. In past decisions, a sharply divided Supreme Court has upheld questioning an arrestee without complying with the Miranda rule, and California’s tough three-strikes-and-you’re-out law, ruling that a prison term of 25 years to life is not too harsh for a small-time thief. Libertarians have offered a five-point plan to control violent crime. This plan includes (1) Protection for victims’ rights through requiring payment of restitution to their victims, (2) End of the prohibition on drugs, (3) Protection of the right to self-defense by permitting the private ownership of firearms, (4) Addressing the root causes of crime by improving schools, and (5) Abolishment of welfare and increase of employment opportunities by slashing taxes and government red tape.

    Criminal Justice Legal Foundation
    Sacramento, CA
    (L) A nonprofit public interest law organization representing the interests of law-abiding citizens before state and federal courts to restore balance between the rights of criminals and the rights of the victims of crime. The primary work is “friend of the court” briefs in criminal cases in the United States Supreme Court, as well as other courts. Issues include search and seizure, capital punishment, habeas corpus, self-incrimination, and evidence. The foundation also publishes studies and articles dealing with crime and criminal law.

  • Economic Rights / Free Market Enterprise / Limited Government

    Typical conservative and libertarian themes on the economic and spending side of government include policies to reduce government waste, lower taxes, deregulate private industry, encourage private enterprise, and terminate outdated programs. Many public policy nonprofits focus on economic regulation, free market enterprise, federal spending, and the deficit as constitutional issues. There are also a growing number of international public policy organizations included in this Guide that focus on free market enterprise and privatization. The Libertarian Party supports repeal of both the federal and state income tax. The Libertarian Party Committee has endorsed the “Free the People” initiative, which would eliminate the California state income tax. State and local taxes are being reduced nationwide through the efforts of public interest groups like the Massachusetts Coalition for Limited Taxation, and the Florida Tax Watch Research Institute, Inc.

    American Enterprise Institute
    Washington, DC
    Founded in 1943, it is one of the oldest and most highly regarded conservative research institutes in Washington, DC. The conservative-leaning research institute features a number of prominent in-house legal scholars, political scientists, and foreign policy experts. The AEI website has an overwhelming amount of material on a wide variety of issues. AEI publishes the magazine, The American Enterprise. AEI also established the Federalism Project to explore opportunities to restore federalism that limits the national government power and compels states to compete for their citizen’s assets, talent, and business. The issues it addresses include limited government, private enterprise, political institutions, a strong foreign and national defense policy, and economic policy.

    American Institute for Economic Research
    Great Barrington, MA
    Organized in 1933 as a private, independent, scientific, and educational charitable organization, the American Institute for Economic Research plans its research to help individuals protect their personal interests and those of the nation. Experience shows that economic information is most useful when it comes from an objective source free of either commercial or political special interests. Neither the Institute nor members of its staff may profit from organizations that may benefit from the results of its research.

    American Legislative Exchange Council
    Washington, DC
    A Washington-based public policy council dedicated to advancing the Jeffersonian principles of free markets, limited government, federalism, and individual liberty through a non-partisan partnership among America’s state legislators and concerned members of the private sector, the federal government, and the public interest.

    Americans for Tax Reform
    Washington, DC
    Americans for Tax Reform is a coalition of taxpayer groups opposing any and all tax increases at the state, federal, and local levels. ATR works with state tax groups to ask all candidates for office to sign the Taxpayer Protection Pledge committing officeholders to oppose tax increases. ATR publicizes the Cost of Government Day each year – the day until which Americans must work to pay the cost of taxes and regulations. ATR also coordinates the Reagan legacy Project urging Congress and state legislatures to name memorials after President Reagan.

    Atlantic Legal Foundation
    New York, NY
    (L) A nonprofit litigation organization that advocates the principles of limited government, the free market system, and the rights of individuals. Holds governments accountable for their actions and challenges burdensome governmental regulations.

    Beacon Hill Institute
    Boston, MA
    The Institute focuses on federal, state, and local economic policies as they affect citizens and businesses, particularly in Massachusetts. The Institute, which is part of Suffolk University, uses state-of-the-art statistical, mathematical, and econometric methods to provide timely analyses to voters, policymakers, and opinion leaders. Issues include state competitiveness, state tax analysis modeling, Medicaid spending, and welfare reform.

    Capital Research Center
    Washington, DC
    CRC analyzes organizations that promote the growth of the welfare state and identifies private alternatives to government welfare programs. Research includes corporate giving to advocacy groups, education reform groups, and environmental groups. The Center publishes newsletters covering labor, culture, patterns of corporate philanthropy, and organization trends.

    Cato Institute
    Washington, DC
    The Cato Institute seeks to broaden the parameters of public policy debate to allow consideration of the traditional American principles of limited government, individual liberty, free markets, and peace. Toward that goal, the Institute strives to achieve greater involvement of the intelligent, concerned lay public in questions of policy and the proper role of government.

    Eagle Forum
    Washington, DC
    A major part of the conservative movement since 1972, Eagle Forum was founded by anti- feminist Phyllis Schafly. Eagle Forum is a non-partisan nonprofit organization that supports tax reduction and self-government. The organization trains volunteers on how to affect government policies at every level of state and federal government; and how to articulate conservative, pro-family policies through the media. Issues: judicial activism, tax cuts, reducing federal control of education, privacy rights and reduction of waste.

    Freedom Works
    Washington, DC
    A conservative public policy institute and political advocacy organization, Freedom Works formulates and promotes progressive-conservative policies based on the principles of economic growth, international leadership, and cultural renewal. Areas of study include Internet and technology policy, tax reform, social security reform, and national security.

    The James Madison Institute
    Tallahassee, FL
    A Florida-based non-partisan, nonprofit research and educational organization dedicated to advancing economic freedom, education reform, limited government, federalism, traditional values, the rule of law, and individual liberty. The Institute focuses only on Florida law.

    The Justice Foundation
    San Antonio, TX
    (L) A nonprofit, public interest litigation foundation that provides free legal representation in landmark cases promoting limited government, free markets, private property rights, and parental rights. Issues include tort reform, education reform, tax/fiscal policy, health care, and transportation. TJF has litigated and won many cases before the U.S. Supreme Court, other federal and state courts and governmental agencies under the Commerce Clause, the Fifth Amendment Takings Clause and the 14th Amendment Equal Protection Clause.

    Mountain States Legal Foundation
    Lakewood, CO
    (L) A nonprofit, public interest legal center established in 1977 that litigates on behalf of private citizens, associations, and local governments. MSLF has had numerous appearances before the Supreme Court in nationally significant, precedent-setting cases. The Foundation is dedicated to individual liberty, the right to own and use property, limited and ethical government, and the free enterprise system. Issues include constitutional law and energy and natural resources law.

    National Legal Center for the Public Interest
    Washington, DC
    A nonprofit law and education foundation dedicated to the fostering of knowledge about law and the administration of justice with concern for the rights of individuals, free enterprise, private property, limited government, and a fair and efficient judiciary. Its goals are accomplished through publications, briefings, and educational programs. The Center also operates a Supreme Court Resource Center. Issues include intellectual property, the liability explosion, environmental regulation, competition policy and regulated industries.

    New England Legal Foundation (NELF)
    Boston, MA
    (L) The only nonprofit, non-partisan public interest law firm in the region addressing policy and constitutional concerns related to free enterprise. Its mission is promoting public discourse on the proper role of free enterprise in our society and advancing free enterprise principles in the courtroom. The most common subject areas are government regulation, property rights, taxation, and employment law. NELF also presents seminars and panel discussions and publishes White Papers, media pieces, and op/ed articles to allow analysis and consideration of matters of first impression.

    Pacific Legal Foundation
    Sacramento, CA
    (L) Represents the economic, social, and environmental interests of the public in court while emphasizing private property rights; freedom from excessive government regulation; free-market economics; balanced environmental policy; and non-wasteful, productive, and fiscally sound government. Through litigation, the foundation combats race and gender preferences, quotas, and set- asides in government hiring, education, and contracting.

    Pioneer Institute for Public Policy Research
    Boston, MA
    A nonprofit public policy think tank dedicated to changing the intellectual climate in Massachusetts with programs that develop solutions to real-world social and economic problems. Devoted to education reform with a focus on competition and the expansion of parental choice. Other issues include the application of free-market principles to public policy and restructuring and reducing the size of Massachusetts’ government through competition, privatization, and deregulation. Issues include welfare reform, charter schools, health care, transportation and privatization. Policy Centers include the Shamie Center for Restructuring Government, the Center for Urban Entrepreneurship, and the School Choice Initiative.

    Southeastern Legal Foundation
    Atlanta, GA
    (L) A conservative public interest law firm that advocates limited government, individual liberties, private property rights, and the free enterprise system. The foundation defends the rights of individuals, organized groups, and corporations whose rights are infringed by government at the local, state, and federal levels.

    Washington Legal Foundation
    Washington, DC
    (L) A free enterprise public interest law and policy center. WLF litigates precedent-setting issues in the courts and before government agencies, and advocates free enterprise, responsible government, strong national security and defense, and a balanced civil and criminal justice system. The foundation won a landmark decision from the U.S. Supreme Court in Phillips v. Washington Legal Foundation where the court, in a 5 to 4 decision, held that Texas’ public use of interest accrued on principal client funds deposited by mandate into federally funded accounts, violates the 5th Amendment Takings Clause. In March 2003, this precedent was contradicted in Brown et al. v. Washington Legal Foundation in another 5 to 4 split decision.

  • Education

    A prominent issue on the conservative agenda is charter schools and school vouchers. Opening the doors to school choice for both public and private schools, permitting use of school vouchers, increasing charter schools, and improving quality of education through standardized testing, smaller pupil-teacher ratios, and establishment of education savings accounts are common themes. Cases have been litigated throughout the country on school equality, school vouchers, and charter schools. Libertarians go even further in reducing government control by recommending the elimination of the U.S. Department of Education.

    Center for Equal Opportunity
    Sterling, VA
    (L) An independent nonprofit center that conducts research and education on issues related to race, ethnicity, bilingual education, and assimilation.

    The Heartland Institute
    Chicago, IL
    An independent nonprofit center for public policy research and source of information for journalists and state and federal elected officials. Heartland’s mission is to help build social movements in support of ideas that empower people. Such ideas include parental choice in education, choice and personal responsibility in health care, market-based approaches to environmental protection, privatization of public services, and deregulation in areas where property rights and markets do a better job than government bureaucracies.

    Institute for Justice (IJ)
    Washington, DC
    (L) A nonprofit libertarian public interest law firm that litigates cases to secure economic liberty, school choice, private property rights, freedom of speech, and other vital individual liberties and to restore constitutional limits on the power of government. The Institute also trains law students, lawyers, and policy activists in the tactics of public interest litigation to advance individual rights.

    Pioneer Institute for Public Policy Research
    Boston, MA
    See complete description under Economic Rights section. A nonprofit public policy think tank dedicated to changing the intellectual climate in Massachusetts with programs that develop solutions to real-world social and economic problems. Devoted to education reform with a focus on competition and the expansion of parental choice.

    The Landmark Legal Foundation in Leesburg, VA (listed in the Civil Liberties section) and the Justice Foundation in San Antonio, TX (listed in the Economic Rights section), focus on policy analysis and legislative reform based on deregulation, competition, for-profit schools, and parental choice.

  • Environmentalism / Energy

    State and federal government environmental agencies, the largest being the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, should be explored if your interests lie in environmental regulation and enforcement.

    Mountain States Legal Foundation
    Lakewood, CO
    (L) A nonprofit, public interest legal center established in 1977that litigates on behalf of private citizens, associations, and local governments. MSLF has had numerous appearances before the Supreme Court in nationally significant, precedent-setting cases. The Foundation is dedicated to individual liberty, the right to own and use property, limited and ethical government, and the free enterprise system. Issues include constitutional law and energy and natural resources law.

    Pacific Legal Foundation
    Sacramento, CA
    (L) Represents the economic, social, and environmental interests of the public in court while emphasizing private property rights; freedom from excessive government regulation; free-market economics; balanced environmental policy; and non-wasteful, productive, and fiscally sound government. Through litigation, the foundation combats race and gender preferences, quotas, and set- asides in government hiring, education, and contracting.

    Property and Environment Research Center
    Bozeman, MT
    PERC is an internationally recognized institute dedicated to seeking out and developing market solutions to environmental problems. PERC pioneered the approach known as free market environmentalism and conducts research in the areas of water, forestry, public lands, and endangered species, among others. Research fellows are graduate and law students with an interest in natural resources and environmental issues.

  • Foreign Policy / International Relations / Privatization

    American Foreign Policy Council (AFPC)
    Washington, DC
    AFPC was founded in 1982 and is dedicated to bringing information to those who make or influence the foreign policy of the United States and to assist world leaders with building democracies and market economies. The organization works closely with Congress, the Executive Branch and the policymaking community and is staffed by noted specialists in foreign and defense policy. Programs include foreign aid, Russia, China, Central Asia and the Middle East.

    Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE)
    Washington, DC
    CIPE is an affiliate of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and is dedicated to building democracies and market economies throughout the world. CIPE conducts programs with funding from the National Endowment for Democracy and the U.S. Agency for International Development. Its strategy focuses on the following key issues: combat corruption, promote sound corporate governance, strengthen the role of women-owned businesses, support entrepreneurship, reform institutional structures, and promote privatization as a key step to improved competitiveness.

    Center for Strategic and International Studies
    Washington, DC
    The Center is a non-partisan public policy research institution dedicated to analysis and policy impact. CSIS experts generate strategic analysis in key functional areas, such as international finance and trade, national security, and energy policy.

    Foundation for Defense of Democracies
    Washington, DC
    The Foundation for Defense of Democracies is a policy institute that focuses on terrorism, the ideologies that drive terrorism, and the policies that can best eradicate terrorism. In addition, FDD promotes freedom, human rights, and the building of democratic institutions. Those affiliated with FDD believe that terrorism is always wrong – that no grievance or complaint justifies the intentional killing of non- combatant men, women, and children. The Foundation believes that democratic societies have a right to defend themselves – and an obligation to defend one another.

    Ludwig Von Mises Institute
    Auburn, AL
    The Mises Institute was founded in 1981 and is dedicated to the work and vision of Murray N. Rothbard (1926-1995), philosopher of liberty, dean of the Austrian School of economics, historian of American freedom, and enemy of the welfare- warfare state. The Journal of Libertarian Studies and Left and Right are published by The Mises Institute. Affiliated Institutes are located in Belgium and Romania.

    United States Institute of Peace
    Washington, DC
    The United States Institute of Peace established in 1984 is an independent, non-partisan federal institution created and funded by Congress to strengthen the nation’s capacity to promote peaceful resolution of international conflicts. The Institute offers a variety of programs, grants fellowships conferences, publications and other educational activities. Its board is appointed by the President of the United States and confirmed by the Senate.

  • Government Accountability

    Citizens Against Government Waste
    Washington, DC
    Citizens against Government Waste educates Americans about waste, mismanagement, and inefficiency in the federal government.

    Judicial Watch, Inc.
    Washington, DC
    (L) Established in 1994, this nonprofit foundation serves as an ethical and legal watchdog over America’s government and judicial systems to promote political and legal reform. Takes on strong affirmative actions on a case-by-case basis to police ethical and legal transgressions by government officials and judges.

    National Legal and Policy Center
    Falls Church, VA
    (L) Promotes ethics, openness, and accountability in government through research, education, and litigation. It conducts credible and high-quality research and public education and provides expertise to take action through lawsuits, complaints, congressional testimony, and even street demonstrations.

  • Health Care / Social Security

    Medicare Reform – Increasing choices and improving health care through comprehensive Medicare reform based on patient choice and control and free market competition are common conservative and libertarian policy stands. Mainstreaming low-income persons on Medicaid into private health insurance coverage and providing a health care tax credit to unemployed workers who have lost their jobs and health care coverage are also goals. Public interest advocates throughout the country are driving the expansion of welfare reform by promoting work, strengthening marriage, and expanding education. Organizations involved in Health Care Reform include the Heritage Foundation in Washington, D.C., the Heartland Institute in Chicago, and the National Center for Policy Analysis in Washington, D.C. included in this Guide.

    Social Security – The Thomas A. Roe Institute for Economic Policy Studies at the Heritage Foundation has led the research and public policy effort to reform the Social Security system.  Organizations involved in Social Security reform include the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, D.C. and the Hoover Institution at Stanford.


  • Immigration

    Federation for American Immigration Reform
    Washington, DC
    Founded to identify national interests, articulate a national consensus, and advocate a national immigration policy responsive to the population, environmental, and economic realities of our time. FAIR advocates impact litigation, community organizing, administrative hearings, and individual cases.

  • International and Non-Governmental Organizations

    Listed below is just a sampling of international organizations that focus on democracy building, market economies and privatization located throughout the world.

    The Foundation for Democracy in Africa
    Washington, DC
    A Washington-based nonprofit, nonpartisan organization. The Foundation was founded in 1994 with the intent to vertically integrate a culturally based program aimed at strengthening and enhancing the fundamental principles of democracy, freedom, and economic plurality in Africa. The mission of the Foundation is to implement the principles of culturally based democratic government within the African society, bringing the countries of Africa into the mainstream of the global economy through free enterprise, thus cultivating the pathway for peace and prosperity from resulting economic opportunity.

    The Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD)
    Washington, DC
    The Foundation for Defense of Democracies is a non- governmental organization funded by a diverse group of individual philanthropists. FDD was created in the wake of the attacks on America on September 11, 2001 and covers a broad range of issues related to the war on terrorism such as the role of democracy- building in counterterrorism, civil liberties and homeland security. The organization does not seek to advance any political party or views. Founding members and distinguished advisors include Steve Forbes, Jack Kemp, Jeanne Kirkpatrick, and James Woolsey. Advisors include members of Congress from both parties.

    Australia – The Centre for Independent Studies
    St. Leonards, New South Wales, Australia
    The Center is Australia’s leading public policy research institute. Founded in Sydney, its major concern is with the principles and conditions of an open society, with particular focus on Australia and New Zealand. It embraces the free market and other voluntary processes in providing services normally supplied by the compulsory methods of government. It prides itself on being independent and non-partisan in its funding and research. Since 1976, the CIS has conducted research into economics, social status, government, environment, and foreign affairs.

    Belgium – Ludwig von Mises Institute Europe
    Leuven, Belgium
    The Institute aims to foster respect for individual liberty and the free market economy and to promote a better understanding of the rule of law in a free society, especially with regard to the free association and movement of persons, goods, services, and capital in the European context. The activities of the Institute include education and scientific research, application of the principle of the rule of law to the European Union, conferences, publications, and scholarship programs. The Institute was named after professor Ludwig von Mises (1881-1973), a leading exponent of the Austrian School of Economics and teacher of the Nobel Prize winner in Economics, F.A. von Hayek.

    Canada – The Fraser Institute
    Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
    The Fraser Institute is an independent non-partisan organization dedicated to raising the level of understanding about economic and social policy including economic freedom, environmental risk, fiscal policy, governance, and the law and markets. The Institute’s Fiscal Studies department looks at taxation levels, debts, deficits and spending, and the budgets of governments across Canada and the United States. The department has looked at the issue of a common North American currency and examined the potential benefits of a flat tax.

    Chile – Libertad y Desarrollo
    Las Condes, Santiago, Chile
    A private research center and think tank dedicated to the analysis of public policy and to promoting the values and principles of a free society and market economy. Research areas include national and international economics, social affairs programs, political and institutional programs, legislative programs, and environmental programs.

    Croatia – Institute for International Relations
    Zagreb, Croatia
    The Institute is a public, nonprofit policy research organization engaged in the interdisciplinary study of international economic and political relations, transitional policy, international markets, sustainable development foreign policy analysis and culture and communication. Activities include research projects, seminars, strategic support to decision makers, international organizations and regional and international industry.

    Hong Kong – Hong Kong Policy Research Institute
    Wan Chai, Hong Kong
    With Hong Kong’s return to China on July 1, 1997, 17 people from various businesses, professional and academic backgrounds, including individuals from different political parties, came together to form the Hong Kong Policy Research Institute in 1995. Its primary purpose is to participate in the long-term development of Hong Kong and of the Chinese Community. As well as committing to quality research, the Institute is actively building relationships with the Hong Kong Government and the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office of the State Council of China, and has set up collaborative research work with think tanks in the Mainland, Taiwan, and overseas countries.

    India – Liberty Institute
    New Delhi, India
    The Liberty Institute was formed to promote awareness and appreciation for the four institutional pillars of a free society – individual rights, the rule of law, limited government, and free markets. The Institute proposes market-based alternatives to government regulations in areas such as social policy, health and safety, and environmental regulations. The Board of Advisors includes company representatives and U.S. professors and policy experts.

    Kenya – Inter Region Economic Network (IREN)
    Nairobi, Kenya
    The Inter Region Economic Network is a non-governmental, nonpartisan organization that promotes a pro-choice approach to free market policies and classical liberal ideas that will enable and encourage the development of Kenya, East Africa, and Africa in general. Its mission is to engage a greater number of people in challenging debates, writings, and research based on the recognition that “A free human mind is the mainspring of all development.” IREN’s vision is to be the most effective organization in promoting the creation of a free society where markets inform people’s choices and decisions.

    South Africa – The South African Institute of Race Relations
    Cape Town, South Africa
    The Institute, founded in 1929, stands for constitutional and economic liberalism based on individual rights, the rule of just law, democratic governance, free enterprise, the creation of opportunities for the poor and racial goodwill. Committed also to human development, the Institute runs one of the largest bursary programs in South Africa.

    Turkey – Turkish Foreign Policy Institute (FPI), Bilkent University
    Ankara, Turkey
    FPI was founded in 1974 as a private organization. Its Council of Administration is composed of academicians, diplomats, and bureaucrats. It is affiliated with the Turkish Foundation for International Relations and Strategic Studies. It aims at contributing to foreign policy through research, meetings, and publications.

    United Kingdom – The Adam Smith Institute
    London, United Kingdom
    The Institute is the UK’s leading innovator of market economic policies. It researches practical ways to spread choice, extend competition and markets, and roll back big government, high taxes, and intrusive regulation. Independent and nonprofit, it works through public debate in the media, research, publications, conferences, and events. The Institute’s international division has helped many governments across the world to reduce poverty and improve the standards of their people. The Institute’s next generation group brings together school and university students and young people starting their careers who are interested in public affairs and gives them the opportunity to meet, learn, and create.

    United Kingdom – Westminster Foundation for Democracy Programme, The Conservative Party
    London, United Kingdom
    The Conservative Party (officially called the Conservative and Unionist Party) is the oldest political party in the United Kingdom. The party is supportive of reduced government intervention in most matters.

  • Political / Legislative and Electoral Reform

    American Conservative Union Foundation
    Alexandria, VA
    The American Conservative Union is a conservative lobbying organization. ACU’s purpose is to communicate and advance the goals and principles of conservatism through one multi-issue umbrella organization. ACU’s statement of principles details its support of capitalism, belief in the doctrine of original intent of the Framers of the Constitution, confidence in traditional moral values, and commitment to a strong national defense. Annually since 1971, ACU has published ratings of Congress. Based on actual votes cast on a wide range of issues, each member of the House and Senate is rated on a zero to 100 scale, designed to indicate the strength of his or her adherence to conservative principles.

    The Center for Study of Public Choice
    Fairfax, VA
    This research institution at George Mason University provides a single location where eminent scholars conduct innovative research, publish their findings and conclusions in a variety of print and electronic media, and teach the science of public choice. Under the current leadership of Dr. Alex Tabarrok, the Center builds on the groundbreaking economic and political science theories for which Buchanan was awarded the Nobel Prize in economics.

    International Republican Institute (IRI)
    Washington, DC
    IRI opened its doors in 1983 as a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing democracy worldwide. The Institute is guided by the fundamental American principles of individual liberty, the rule of law and the entrepreneurial spirit. From its headquarters in Washington, D.C. as well as overseas offices, IRI sends expert volunteer trainers, elected officials and skilled staff members to countries around the world to teach others how to build lasting democracies and conduct legal, legislative and electoral reform work.

    Leadership Institute
    Arlington, VA
    The Leadership Institute is a national training organization for preparing future generations of conservative leaders. Founded in 1979, it is devoted to the task of identifying, recruiting, training, and placing philosophically committed conservatives in positions of influence in the public policy process.

    Manhattan Institute for Policy Research
    New York, NY
    The Manhattan Institute is a nonpartisan, independent research and education organization supported by tax-deductible gifts from individuals, foundations, and corporations. The Institute’s goal is to develop and encourage public policies at all levels of government to allow individuals the greatest scope for achieving their potential, both as participants in a productive economy and as members of a legal functioning society.

    The Republican National Committee, Counsel’s Office
    Washington, DC
    The RNC Counsel’s Office provides internal legal support for the RNC to maintain full compliance with federal and state election laws, files amicus briefs with the U.S. Supreme Court in major constitutional cases, and communicates with Congress and state legislatures regarding campaign finance and election administration reform.

  • Religious Liberties / Human Rights

    “Governments have not always been tolerant of religious activity, and hostility toward religion has taken many shapes and forms – economic, political, and sometimes harshly oppressive,” as stated by former Supreme Court Chief Justice Warren Burger.6 Many pro-liberty public interest nonprofits focus on First Amendment law as it applies to religious liberties. For example, the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty in D.C. defended the right of a Knights of Columbus chapter to place a creche in a public square previously used for secular displays, and the right of Muslim police officers to wear beards required by their faith. The Fifth Circuit upheld the presence of St. Andrew’s Cross within the Confederate battle flag on the Mississippi state flag against a Muslim’s challenge that it violated the Establishment Clause, and in Zelman v. Simmons-Harris, a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court rejected an Establishment Clause challenge to the school voucher program in Cleveland, Ohio. Another notable issue in the faith-based initiative debate concerns employment practices of religious groups and the impact of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993. The following organizations focus on these and other issues impacting religious and other civil rights.

    Alliance Defense Fund
    Scottsdale, AZ
    (L) The Alliance Defense Fund is a national organization that supports the legal defense and advocacy of religious freedom and family values through funding, training, and support of private lawyers involved in pro bono religious liberty cases.

    American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ)
    Washington, DC
    (L) ACLJ specializes in constitutional law, and through their work in the courts and the legislative arena, the ACLJ is dedicated to protecting religious and constitutional freedoms. In addition to providing legal services at no cost to their clients, ACLJ focuses on national security, protecting America’s families, and protecting human life.

    The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty
    Washington, DC
    (L) The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty is a bipartisan and ecumenical public interest law firm that protects the free expression of all religious traditions. Three principles that guide the Fund’s mission are that freedom of religion is a basic human right that no government may deny, religious expression is a natural part of life in civilized society, and religious people and institutions are entitled to participate in government affairs on an equal basis. The Fund has represented Buddhists, Christians, Jews, Muslims, Native Americans, Sikhs, and Zoroastrians. The organization defended the right of a Knights of Columbus chapter to place a creche in a public square previously used for secular displays, Creatore v. Town of Trumbull, 115 S. Ct. 2637 (1995) (mem.); and the right of Muslim police officers to wear beards required by their faith, F.O.P. v. Newark, 170 F.3d 359 (3d Cir. 1999).

    Center for Law and Religious Freedom
    Annandale, VA
    (L) The Center for Law and Religious Freedom has been a respected voice in the First Amendment arena since 1975. The Center’s primary mission is to defend and advance the religious freedom of all Americans. In 1993, the Center expanded its mission to include defending the sanctity of human life from conception to natural death. The Center pursues its mission through legislative advocacy, “test case” litigation, friend-of-the-court briefs, and providing information to CLS members and the general public.

    Family Research Council
    Washington, DC
    (L) The Family Research Council focuses on family and marriage as the wellspring of society. The Council shapes public debate and formulates public policy that values human life and the institutions of marriage and the family. Issues include judicial reform, education reform, parental rights, sanctity of life, and global religious persecution. FRC publishes a newsletter, Washington Watch, and delivers radio commentaries.

    Institute on Religion and Public Life
    New York, NY
    The Institute is an interreligious, nonpartisan research and education institute whose purpose is to advance a religiously informed public philosophy for the ordering of society. The aim is to teach people about the moral and ethical basis of capitalism. The Institute sponsors scholars’ conferences, research projects, public educational events and a fellows program. The Institute welcomes students with an interest in all religions, and students from “all faiths and no faiths.”

    National Legal Foundation
    Virginia Beach, VA
    (L) NLF is a public interest law firm specializing in constitutional law and devoted to defense of religious liberties, protecting the unborn, and challenging outcome- based education programs. Its in- house think tank, the Minuteman Institute, concentrates on early American studies, classical liberal studies, and religion and society studies.

    Pacific Justice Institute
    Citrus Heights, CA
    (L) Provides attorney and clients with free legal research support, timely financial resources, media support, access to a bank of briefs, and strategic planning. The focus is to coordinate and oversee large numbers of concurrent court actions through a network of affiliate attorneys nationwide. Areas of expertise include religious freedom and liberties, parents’ rights, redirection of union dues to charities, defending against anti- family, and anti-faith legislation.

    The Rutherford Institute
    Charlottesville, VA
    (L) A nonprofit civil liberties legal and educational organization dedicated to protecting the religious rights of persons in the public arena, aided by a network of hundreds of attorneys who represent individuals and organizations pro bono. Also dedicated to protecting the constitutional rights of churches and other religious organizations. Issues include protecting religious expression, free speech, parental rights, the sanctity of human life, church rights, and international religious freedom.

  • Telecommunications / Internet

    This area encompasses a wide variety of legal and public policy issues including removal of government barriers to the revival of the technology market by reducing regulations and taxes and identifying non-regulatory means of protecting intellectual property on the Internet. The challenge for policymakers is to allow for better enforcement of property rights while not imposing new regulations on technology.

  • Transportation

    Market reforms are being enacted at the state and federal levels to privatize the federal highway system, Amtrak, state transportation programs including underground and surface transportation systems, and the federal aviation program. Transportation issues are the focus of state agencies such as the Massachusetts Highway Department, the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority, the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority and Massport Authority. The U.S. Department of Transportation, the Federal Highway Administration, and the Federal Aviation Administration operate related agencies on the federal level. Nonprofit public policy organizations that cover transportation deregulation are the Institute for Justice, the American Enterprise Institute, and the Heritage Foundation in Washington, D.C.

    Reason Foundation
    Los Angeles, CA
    A national research and educational organization that provides practical public policy research, analysis, and commentary based upon individual liberty, limited government, and market competition. Issues include transportation, aviation security, environmental policy, privatization, and government reform.


[1] David E. Forte, Conservatism and the Rehnquist Court, Heritage Lecture #438, The Heritage Foundation, Washington, D.C., April 10, 1993.

[2] Sandra Day O’Connor, The Majesty of The Law, Reflections of a Supreme Court Justice, Random House, Arizona Community Foundation Copyright, 2003, p. 14. 

[3] Lino A. Graglia, The Myth of a Conservative Supreme Court: The October 2000 Term, The Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy, Volume 26, Number 1 at 291, Winter 2003. 

[4] Id at 288. 

[5] David Boaz, Libertarianism, A Primer, The Free Press, A Division of Simon & Schuster Inc., 1997. 

[6] Walz v. Tax Comm’n of N.Y., 397 U.S. 664, 673 (1970). 

[7] Alan Charles Cors and Harvey A. Silverglate, The Shadow University, The Free Press, A Division of Simon & Schuster Inc., 1998, HarperPerennial, 1999.


Written by Virginia A. Greiman, OPIA Attorney Adviser, and Andrew Chan, OPIA Summer Fellow

Much appreciation goes to Alexa Shabecoff, Assistant Dean and Director of OPIA for her wise counsel and steadfast support, and Andrew Chan, OPIA Summer Fellow who managed production and editing of the Guide and updated the organizational, resource and narrative sections, Judy Murciano, Harvard Law School’s Fellowship Director for her guidance on fellowships and grants, Kirsten Bermingham, OPIA’s Program Coordinator, Lisa Williams, OPIA’s Assistant Director for J.D. Advising, and the entire OPIA staff for their generous assistance. I would especially like to thank Hans Bader, Clint Bolick, Jennifer Bradley, Kathryn Biber Chen, Ted Cruz, Jim DeLong, Paul Ferrara, Charles Fried, Sarah Isgur, Emilie Kao, Dan Lyons, Raffi Melconian, Michael Rosman, Bill Saunders, and Paul Taylor for their generous contributions to the Guide.

– Ginny A. Greiman