*Guest Post* – President Trump’s Effect on Public Interest Law by: Dylan Goll

 Dylan Goll is a Project Assistant at NALP and rising 2-L at American University Washington College of Law. He is interested in a career in public service, particularly in working with U.S. patent law.  

The Trump administration brings a lot of speculation in regards to the future of our country. The fate of the public interest sector of law is most certainly a part of that speculation. President Trump has made plenty of controversial proposals that range from his factually-lacking stance on climate change as seen through his withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement, his support for his vice president’s pro-life stance of limiting funding to organizations such as Planned Parenthood, to his immigration ban proposals that federal courts have determined to be unconstitutional. As Trump’s administration increasingly tries to further their success in these controversial issues, an interesting result has occurred; there has been a resurgence of interest and vigor in public interest law.

The Trump administration poses a clear threat to some sectors of the public interest world through Trump’s controversial proposals and his proposed budget cuts, a silver lining still exists. Many liberals and those potentially affected by the administration’s proposals have participated in the myriad of protests that have occurred across the country since Trump’s election, while some have fought back either with the law or through opening up their wallets to public interest organizations and non-profits. Law, particularly public interest law, is now one of the hottest ways liberals and those affected by the administration’s proposals can fight back as seen through the unprecedented turnout of lawyers and law students at major airports across the country to offer legal advice and counsel after Trump attempted to pass his travel ban as an executive order (The Hill). Furthermore, the ACLU sued Trump towards the end of January over the travel ban. Legal backlash that the President has faced illustrates the significance public interest law is playing in the fight against Trump’s administration. A whole generation of students is now inspired to turn to a legal education to fight against issues of social justice and produce positive change in the world (The Hill).

Furthermore, support for public interest organizations and non-profits have grown at a tremendous rate despite the threat of federal funding for various public interest organizations being cut. The week after the election, Planned Parenthood received 80,000 donations and it was clear that a message to the administration was being sent by the public as many of those donations were made under Vice-President Pence’s name (IndyStar). The Sierra club saw a similar increase in donations as Trump has withdrawn the U.S. from the Paris Climate Agreements. The support didn’t end there as ACLU’s donation page crashed due to the high number of donations they were receiving after they made a public statement to use their team of lawyers and activists to fight Trump’s agenda with its full power (FindLaw). Lastly, Trump’s proposed travel ban has also met resistance due to financial support from donors as the Council on American-Islamic Relations experienced a tremendously large increase in donations and a surge of volunteers (FindLaw).

A Trump administration means a lot of things for this country. Whatever side of the political spectrum you reside, no one can argue that the administration and its plans greatly affect the public interest sector and threaten the very existence of some public interest organizations. President Trump and his administration have already experienced severe legal backlash from those organizations and lawyers. I don’t, and nor should the American people, expect this conflict over ideology and policy to stop anytime soon. However, politics aside, I find it inspiring that a whole generation of students and lawyers are banding together in the name of public good and social justice. This resurgence in public interest law not only illustrates the strength and potential for change a legal education provides, but it also acts as a source of inspiration for a generation of kids who are looking to make the world a better place.

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