With five attorneys on staff and our strong focus on the legal fight against violations of individual rights on campus, people are sometimes surprised to learn that FIRE does not directly litigate or represent students and faculty in court. That’s because while FIRE does coordinate litigation in certain instances—including, for example, cases brought as part of our Speech Code Litigation Project—we rely on our Legal Network to intervene on behalf of students or faculty members in need of legal assistance.
FIRE’s Legal Network is a collection of affiliated attorneys nationwide who share FIRE’s principles, values and goals, and we’re always happy to add new recruits.
Being a member of the Legal Network is simple and largely informal: there are no dues, requirements or other commitments. Instead, membership in the Legal Network simply entails receiving case referral e-mails from time to time about FIRE cases across the country that we believe merit legal attention. The level of attorney involvement can range from a simple letter of inquiry to full litigation. Some of the cases involve requests for pro bono legal assistance; others involve potentially large damage awards and/or an award of attorneys’ fees to the prevailing party. In still other cases, the clients may be able to pay for all or part of the legal services rendered. Of course, Legal Network members are under no obligation to accept a case that is referred to them for consideration. It’s entirely up to the attorney to decide whether or not to seek more information about the anonymous case referrals FIRE will send out on occasion.
If you’re an attorney interested in helping FIRE defend fundamental civil liberties on campus as part of our Legal Network, we’d love to hear from you.