Paul Avelar is an attorney in the Institute for Justice’s Arizona office. He joined the Institute in March 2010 and litigates free speech, school choice, property rights, economic liberty and other constitutional cases in both federal and state courts.
Paul represents people across the country whose free speech rights have been trampled by campaign finance laws. In Arizona Freedom Club PAC v. Bennett, he represented a group of candidates and independent groups in a successful Supreme Court challenge to the “matching funds” provision of Arizona’s publicly financed elections system. He also represents grassroots groups and individuals in Arizona, Mississippi, and Washington whose political speech has been limited and burdened by laws requiring them to register with the government and navigate a complex web of regulations and face fines and possible criminal penalties just to talk about political issues of the day.
Paul also represents natural hair braiders across the country to protect their right to earn an honest living. He is currently leading IJ’s national Braiding Freedom Initiative, which is using lawsuits, activism, and research to get rid of laws that require hundreds of hours of training, at a cost of thousands of dollars, just to braid hair. In Clayton v. Steinagel, he successfully represented a braider in challenging a Utah law that forced her to first spend as much as $18,000 for 2,000 hours of instruction—none of which actually taught her how to braid hair.
Prior to joining IJ-AZ, Paul worked as an attorney in Philadelphia. He is a former law clerk to the Judge Roger Miner of the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, Justice Andrew Hurwitz of the Arizona Supreme Court, and Judge Daniel Barker of the Arizona Court of Appeals.
Paul received his law degree magna cum laude from the Arizona State University College of Law in 2004 and was elected to the Order of the Coif. He received his undergraduate degree from Princeton University in 2000.