The Institute for Public Representation (IPR) is a public interest law firm and clinical education program founded by Georgetown University Law Center in 1971. The Institute serves as counsel for groups and individuals who are unable to obtain effective legal representation on matters that often have a significant impact on issues of broad public importance. IPR has three faculty members, who along with five graduate fellows, supervise students in three different areas of the law: communications and technology, environmental, and civil rights/general public interest. Although students work on projects within a single subject matter area, they take seminars and participate in rounds with students from all three areas. This clinic provides many opportunities for legal and factual research, writing advocacy documents, and contact with clients, opposing and/or outside co-counsel, and agency officials.
For more information about the Institute for Public Representation, visit the IPR website.
|Duration:||Semester, Fall or Spring|
|No. of Participants:||6 students/semester|
|Open to:||Second semester 2Ls and all 3Ls|
|Avg. Time Commitment:||42 hours/week|
Communications and Technology Law
This section works on cases involving the intersection of law and technology. Indeed, virtually every aspect of media and telecommunications law involving both new and traditional technology has been affected by the digital revolution. These are highly visible matters with important impact on the public. Students work with non-profit organizations to prepare filings an presentation to federal agencies such as the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and Federal Trade Commission (FTC), as well as briefs filed in the US court of Appeals. Because the projects change over time, perhaps the best way to explain what the clinic does is to give some examples of recent projects.
- filing requests with the FTC to investigate mobile apps and websites that are collecting personal information from children in violation of the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act;
- challenging mergers between media companies at the FCC where the merger would limit diversity and competition in local news or have other consequences harmful to the viewing public;
- counseling non-profit community groups seeking FCC licenses to operate low-power FM radio stations;
- drafting an intervenors' brief filed in the D.C. Circuit on behalf of prisoners and their families supporting the FCC's order directing prison phone service providers to stop charging excessively high rates;
- representing organizations of deaf and hard of hearing consumers in FCC proceedings to improve the availability and quality of closed captioning on television and online;and
- working with a broad coalition of public interest groups to ensure that the true sponsors of political advertising are disclosed on air and online.
- Assisting local residents and a non-profit in challenging the federal government's rubber-stamping renewal of an Iowa zoo's license, despite the zoo's recurring animal welfare violations;
- Representing a national non-profit in its lawsuit to stanch the spread of changeable digital billboards along federal highways;
- Assisting a local environmental group in its opposition to the extension of surface coal mining permits, granted to a coal company in West Virginia;
- Challenging Virginia's water quality permitting regime for construction sites;
- Challenging the environmental review process that was prerequisite to conversion and substantial demolition of an urban park in Charleston, South Carolina;and
- Submitting comments to the DC Public Service Commission on behalf of a local group to raise concerns about climate change-related flooding and opportunities for smart grid investment
Civil Rights/General Public Interest Law
This section of IPR operates as a public interest law firm, representing individual clients and other public interest organizations, primarily in the areas of workplace fairness, consumer protection, and open government. Students interview clients, develop case theories, draft and file complaints in state and federal courts, conduct discovery, engage in motions practice, and prepare appeals. Students also file FOIA requests and analyze responsive documents, and work in coalition with other public interest organizations to develop impact cases. Recent projects include:
- litigating a complex federal Freedom of Information Act suit against the Department of Defense and the CIA on behalf of researchers seeking records on "enhanced interrogation" used in the War on Terror;
- litigating wage theft claims against private entities and government contractors on behalf of employees denied fair wages or overtime;
- litigating retaliation claims on behalf of employees terminated for asserting their rights under FLSA and DC Wage and Hour law;
- litigating on behalf of an individual improperly assessed a deficiency under Maryland consumer protection statutes;
- litigating on behalf of an individual whose employer improperly denied her the lactation breaks she was entitled to under state and federal law;
- litigating on behalf of an individual whose employer improperly denied her disability and pregnancy accommodations, discriminated against her on account of her national origin, and illegally assessed fees against her in connection with her resignation.
- Filing amicus briefs in four appellate cases –two pending before the United States Supreme Court, one in the DC Circuit, and one in the New York Court of Appeals.
- Filing FOIA requests and using the responsive documents to prepare reports exposing government misconduct.
- Preparing and arguing two appeals in federal court, one in the DC Circuit and one in the Fifth Circuit.
- On behalf of a public interest organization, analyzing potential APA claims related to the recall of exploding airbags and other automobile defects.
Institute for Public Representation
600 New Jersey Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20001
Phone: (202) 662-9535
Fax: (202) 662-9634