As readers of The Torch are likely aware, we are fond of keeping up with past members of the FIRE staff. It is an even greater pleasure when we have the opportunity to welcome one of them back to our ranks, so please join me in welcoming Ari Cohn back to FIRE.
Ari served as a legal fellow for FIRE in 2011, after which he joined the Chicago office of Mayer Brown LLP, where he focused his practice on complex commercial litigation, representing large multinational corporations in high-stakes matters. After deciding to once again pursue his passion for advancing the cause of free speech and civil liberties, Ari returns to FIRE as a Program Officer for Legal and Public Advocacy.
Ari is a Chicago-area native who earned his J.D. cum laude from Cornell Law School and is a member of the Illinois State Bar. He earned a B.A. from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where he studied political science and sociology. Growing up in Skokie and learning everything there is to know about the National Socialist Party of America v. Village of Skokie case cultivated a strong interest in First Amendment issues from an early age. Like “Joliet Jake” Blues, Ari hates Illinois Nazis. Nevertheless, he strongly believes that the foundation of true learning rests on what John Stuart Mill famously termed “the clearer perception and livelier impression of truth, produced by its collision with error.”
Ari brings a diverse array of perspectives with respect to the issues facing students today. As an undergraduate, he served on the University of Illinois’ student conduct hearing committee, where he adjudicated alleged violations of the conduct code, including many harassment and sexual assault cases. In addition, a number of his fellow students encountered varying degrees of censorship, which furthered his commitment to protecting civil liberties at our nation’s colleges and universities. As a law student, he sought further perspective and returned to the University of Illinois for a semester, working full-time at the Office of University Counsel. Ari could not be happier to be returning to FIRE to focus on upholding the ideal of higher education as a true “marketplace of ideas.”