L&L-8-12- IJ’s Annual Law Student Conference Trains the Next Generation Of Public Interest Advocates
In June, 37 law students from 25 law schools across the nation attended the Institute for Justice’s 21st annual law student conference, which was held at the George Washington University in Washington, D.C. Joining this year’s attendees were the Institute for Justice’s summer interns, IJ staff and an attorney from Sweden’s Centrum för Rättvisa—a European public interest law firm modeled on IJ.
Attendees spent the weekend getting a crash-course in public interest law the way only IJ can do it. This year’s conference agenda included traditional conference sessions on IJ’s litigation pillars, Institute for Justice litigation strategies for public interest law, media relations tactics, IJ’s Human Action Network and our client roundtable. The client roundtable included Heather Coffy, IJ’s Indiana school choice client; Abbot Justin Brown, who is fighting for the right of monks in his monastery to make and sell caskets without becoming government-licensed funeral directors; and Russ Caswell, the owner of a Massachusetts motel who is fighting the abuse of civil forfeiture laws. The panel showed attendees the real-world impact IJ’s clients and litigation have throughout the nation. New and recently added conference sessions included sessions on IJ’s strategic research, IJ’s Center for Judicial Engagement, an attorney break-out session, which let attendees pick the brains of some of IJ’s litigators, and a question and answer session with IJ’s President and General Counsel Chip Mellor.
Joining Institute for Justice staff presenters were Georgetown Law Center Professor Randy Barnett, who discussed the Affordable Care Act litigation; Cato Institute’s Roger Pilon who debuted a new law student conference session on constitutional theory and history; and George Mason University Professor Todd Zywicki, who spoke on public choice theory and the law.
One of the high points of this year’s conference was the keynote address by Judge Diane S. Sykes of the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Judge Sykes gave a fascinating address on state supreme courts bucking U.S. Supreme Court precedent throughout history. All in attendance enjoyed the speech and the chance to talk with Judge Sykes throughout the evening.
IJ summer clerks and interns and attendees of IJ’s annual law student conference become members of IJ’s Attorney Human Action Network, which now includes more than 1,000 conference alumni. IJ Attorney HAN members are frequently called upon to serve as local counsel for IJ cases, author amicus briefs, or to litigate cases IJ is unable to litigate.
Krissy Keys is the Institute's special projects manager.