Paul Avelar serves as a staff attorney with 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 has represented 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 which created significant disincentives to engaging in political speech and limits on campaign expenditures protected by the First Amendment. Paul 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 is lead counsel in a challenge to a Utah licensing scheme that violates individuals’ right to earn an honest living. Utah requires African hairbraiders to spend as much as $18,000 for 2,000 hours of instruction—none of which actually teaches you how to braid hair. This scheme violates both the U.S. and Utah constitutions, so Paul and IJ are working to restore Utahans’ economic liberty.
Paul also works through the media and legislation to educate the public and protect individual liberty. Paul’s work on constitutional law at IJ has been featured by syndicated columnist George F. Will and John Stossel, among others. He is the President of the Phoenix Lawyers’ Chapter of the Federalist Society.
Prior to joining IJ-AZ, Paul spent three years as an attorney in Philadelphia with Pepper Hamilton LLP. He is a former law clerk to the late 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.