FIRE relaunches Legal Network, calls on attorneys nationwide to defend student and faculty rights

July 1, 2019

PHILADELPHIA, July 1, 2019 — The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education is relaunching its Legal Network, calling on attorneys across the country to join the fight for student and faculty rights.

Two decades after its founding, FIRE receives about 1,000 case submissions a year. While FIRE has helped secure free speech and due process rights for students and faculty nationwide, we are not winning all of these victories alone. The FIRE Legal Network is a nationwide group of attorneys who partner with FIRE in its litigation efforts or take on clients referred by FIRE for cases that require special expertise or additional resources.

“We are incredibly grateful for the time and energy our Legal Network members dedicate to protecting campus community members’ rights,” said Susan Kruth, FIRE’s senior program manager for legal and public advocacy. “They are instrumental in shaping the current legal landscape and ensuring students and faculty members whose rights have been violated will be vindicated.”

Aiming to connect with more attorneys who share the Legal Network members’ talent and commitment to student and faculty rights, FIRE is relaunching its Legal Network program and offering additional resources like legal news updates, conference calls, and networking opportunities.

“FIRE Legal Network members are our greatest partners in forcing colleges and universities to defend unconstitutional speech codes in court,” said FIRE Director of Litigation Marieke Tuthill Beck-Coon. “Colleges and universities can’t ignore FIRE’s lawsuits, and our growing list of successes serves as a reminder to schools across the country that they need to respect student and faculty rights.”

FIRE Legal Network attorneys are behind some of FIRE’s most epic cases and landmark victories. In 2015, after an eight-year legal battle coordinated by FIRE and led by Legal Network member Robert Corn-Revere of Davis Wright Tremaine, Valdosta State University agreed to pay $900,000 to settle a lawsuit brought by former student Hayden Barnes, who was expelled without a hearing for a collage he posted to Facebook protesting a campus building project. In 2017, Legal Network member Arthur Willner of Leader Berkon Colao & Silverstein LLP joined with FIRE attorneys and Los Angeles Pierce College student Kevin Shaw to challenge the miniscule free speech zone at Los Angeles Pierce College. The community college district agreed to revise several speech-restrictive policies and pay $225,000 in attorneys’ fees last year after a ruling in Shaw’s favor by a federal district court.

Attorneys who are interested in joining the FIRE Legal Network are encouraged to fill out the application on FIRE’s website. FIRE looks forward to welcoming new members to the battle for student and faculty rights.

The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to defending and sustaining the individual rights of students and faculty members at America’s colleges and universities. These rights include freedom of speech, freedom of association, due process, legal equality, religious liberty, and sanctity of conscience — the essential qualities of liberty.

CONTACT:

Daniel Burnett, Assistant Director of Communications, FIRE: 215-717-3473; media@thefire.org