Feb 27, 2011 Back from the First Amendment Lawyers Association conference
Since 2000, I have been privileged to be a member of the First Amendment Lawyers Association. The FALA is the essential group for all First Amendment defense lawyers to join and participate in. Complementing and overlapping my criminal defense practice — which forms the great bulk of my law practice — I have also been doing First Amendment defense since 2000, as detailed here and here, including libel defense, political activist defense, and defense of members of the adult entertainment industry, including adult cabarets, adult video stores, adult Internet sites, and escorts. Deeply devoted to civil liberties, I welcome defending such liberties in both the criminal defense and civil litigation arenas.
For the first time since I joined the FALA, the group has held one of its semi-annual meetings in Washington, D.C., from late last week through yesterday. The best part of these meetings is sharing ideas, camaraderie, and optimism during our often tough, bloody, and sometimes gut-wrenching battles to give and extend ongoing full-strength to the First Amendment’s guarantees of free expression. Some of the nation’s best First Amendment lawyers come to these meetings, share ideas through a continuing legal education program, break bread together, and spend off-time together. This always recharges my batteries tremendously. I am intentionally avoiding giving further specifics on the FALA meetings and member interaction, in that the confidentiality that everyone gives the organization fosters particularly beneficial brainstorming among each other.
The conference having been in my own backyard, it was not possible to stay away from court at all times, and I spent time at the office, too. Nevertheless, I spent time at the conference every one of its days, and came away richer for it.
Curiously, even though the Washington, D.C., Beltway area generates plenty of First Amendment litigation, among the FALA’s under 200 members, the group only has four members from Washington, D.C. (2), Maryland (2, including myself) and Virginia (none). I am grateful to have this golden opportunity to be a part of FALA.