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American Constitution Society

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Democracy

Mission: Founded in 2001, the American Constitution Society for Law and Policy ("ACS") is a rapidly growing network of lawyers, law students, scholars, judges, policymakers and other concerned individuals. Our mission is to ensure that fundamental principles of human dignity, individual rights and liberties, genuine equality, and access to justice enjoy their rightful, central place in American law. ACS aims to revitalize and transform the legal and policy debates occurring in law school classrooms, federal and state courtrooms, legislative hearing rooms and the media. Through student and lawyer chapters all across the country, and programs and projects at both the national and local level, ACS promotes a progressive vision of the Constitution, law and public policy; educates lawyers, law students, decision-makers and the public about the historic basis and vitality of such a vision and its importance for the lives of real people; strengthens the intellectual underpinnings for progressive law and policy in the United States; and continues to build a diverse and dynamic national network.

Target demographics: shape debate, build networks, and make a difference in law and public policy

Direct beneficiaries per year: educate tens of thousands through our events and publications; teach over 10,000 public school students about their rights; brief dozens of policymakers and media contacts; and placed students and lawyers in clerkships, internships, and jobs with the potential to create social change

Geographic areas served: states, cities, and law schools across the country

Programs: ACS lawyer chapters bring together an expanding grassroots network of lawyers and other professionals spanning from coast to coast. Lawyer chapters offer a local forum to share ideas and debate issues integral to a progressive legal and policy perspective; to foster networking and collaboration; and to engage on timely issues. They also connect members with national ACS initiatives, providing them with opportunities to help shape the national debate. ACS's nationwide network of student chapters is fostering a new generation of progressive leaders. Through hundreds of programs each year featuring renowned advocates, scholars and judges addressing a wide range of legal and policy issues, chapters educate their members about the critical issues facing our country. Working with ACS lawyer chapters and the national office, they also provide students with meaningful opportunities for professional development and mentoring as well as participation in substantive projects.

Community Stories

167 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I'm a first-year law student, and I've found ACS to be enormously helpful and informative. I've learned a lot from the different speakers brought in to talk about very relevant, current issues in today's legal sphere, and it's been great to meet other progressive students.

Review from Guidestar

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I am second year law student and co-president of my law school's chapter of ACS and I can't even begin to describe how much support - both financially and programitcally - I receive from the ACS national office. Besides the obvious plus of helping to fund our on campus events ACS' staff is always there to help students find speakers for their programs and connect students with lawyers in their area.
Having such a strong commitment to bringing as many law students as possible to the annual convention in DC is just one testament to ACS commitment to mentoring the next generation of lawyers.

Review from Guidestar

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I am in my first year of law school and I find the ACS panels both informative and entertaining. My school's various student organizations host a wide variety of speakers and panels but those hosted by the ACS stand out consistently.

Review from Guidestar

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I'm a third-year law student, and I'm very grateful for the American Constitution Society's efforts in law schools. Through the high-quality speakers ACS has brought to my campus, and through the opportunities that ACS has provided for me to attend national conferences, I've greatly expanded my knowledge of the Constitution and the important legal issues our country currently faces. ACS has greatly enriched my education.

Review from Guidestar

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I have been active in ACS since law school and attended several national conventions. Its programming and resources are unmatched, and its community is vibrant. It provides a great way for law students, lawyers, judges, and others to strengthen and advance constitutional and moral values that are under attack in the political arena and the media.

Board Member

Rating: 5

I am a former ACS Board Member and have working with a number of law school and lawyer's chapters. I have been routinely astonished by the vitality of the conversations and the engagement with the issues demonstrated by ACS members and supporters. The panels, speeches, and debates are nearly uniformly well-reasoned and interesting. Without this important voice, our legal and constitutional community would be substantially less rich. I have been especially impressed with the quality of programming and speakers at the ACS National Conventions every year. I encourage everyone interested in the Constitution and how the United States is applying it in areas from immigration to health care to criminal law to attend the Convention and programs in your area.

Adam S.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I became involved with ACS at Penn Law School in my first year, going on to be the Speaker's Chair and President of our ACS chapter. In the law school community, ACS has quickly become the premier progressive legal policy and advocacy organization. Our chapter puts on dozens of unique events each year that bring students together to discuss and learn more about many of the important issues facing our country. ACS members immediately become part of a larger community of individuals with similar interests and goals, making it a great networking opportunity and a place for professional development.

ACS helps shape public legal debates by publishing timely articles, blog posts, issue briefs and other literature on important areas of the law. ACS also provides areas for students and professionals to hone and publish their work, through their national moot court competition and writing competitions.

Donor

Rating: 5

I was the President of the ACS student chapter at Boston University School of Law and I've recently co-founded the Maryland Lawyer Chapter of ACS. The organization provides great support to young lawyers trying to plug in to the progressive legal community in Washington DC or any other city in the country.

The annual convention is always a must-attend gathering of the greatest progressive legal minds in the country and the organization does a fabulous job of connecting the established members of the legal community with students and young lawyers who are just beginning to get involved.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I'm the President of the University of Miami School of Law Chapter of the American Constitution Society, and I have been incredibly impressed with the national management of the organization from the start. Without their support, our local chapter would not have been able to achieve some of the success that we had this year.

At the University of Miami, this fall, some of our highlighted events included a professor panel on Don't Ask Don't Tell considerations, and we hosted a Voter Rights Panel with ACLU Voting Rights Director Laughlin McDonald.

I've been part of several organizations in the past, but I can tell you that the national chapter has been incredibly fast and efficient in their support of our local chapter. They maintain a great balance of encouraging our creativity, while making sure that no money goes to waste.

I would honestly encourage other nonprofits and associations to model their structure off of ACS because it works incredibly well. It's one of the best non-profits that I've ever worked with.

This organization is an incredibly worthwhile donation.

Ryan D.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Any progressive attorney or law student with an interest in improving our country's legal scholarship should join ACS. I became involved in ACS while I was a student at a law school in California, and I have continued as a member as a practicing attorney in Los Angeles. ACS brings together the sharpest legal minds from around the country, advances legal thinking, and more importantly, offers a response to conservative ideas that have taken on a greater role in the legal profession over the past few decades. All of the ACS events I have been involved with have been professionally run. The staff takes pride in their work and shares the organization's mission. I couldn't recommend getting involved more.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I joined ACS as a student, and later became a student chapter leader. I've remained involved as a professional. As I've continued my participation, I've reaped immeasurable benefits. ACS's programs never fail to be interesting and informative. I've also had the opportunity to meet and become acquainted with leaders and visionaries of today and tomorrow.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I'm Co-President of the Yale Law Chapter of ACS this year, and it's been a great experience. We organize over 100 events/year at Yale Law and are now the largest student group there. The national ACS organization has helped us all along the way, and it runs a first-rate convention each summer in DC--there must have been close to a thousand attendees last year.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I may be the sole law student who twice participated in the ACS sponsored Constance Baker Motley Moot Court. Participation greatly enhanced my law school experience. The education that accrued through participation is difficult to overstate. I'm deeply great to ACS staff for their careful guidance through my moot court adventures.

Also, I benefited in ways too numerous to enumerate including mentoring and ACS convention attendance.

Thanks ACS!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I've been involved in ACS both as a law student, and now as a young lawyer. In law school, ACS helped to create a strong community of progressive lawyers and (with support from ACS National) our student chapter hosted regular events to discuss and explore pressing legal issues. Many of our events were co-sponsored with the Federalist Society chapter, creating lively and informative debates. Additionally, as a student I enjoyed attending ACS events - such as the National Convention - which provided opportunities to meet and network with more senior attorneys with similar ideals. Now, as a young lawyer, I continue to benefit from ACS' amazing events and networking opportunities. I moved to a new city following law school, and immediately connected with the local ACS lawyer chapter. Doing so has been a great way to meet people and get connected to the legal community here.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

The American Constitution Society (ACS) is a great community of people committed to better understanding and improving the American legal system. Many of my good friends and colleagues from law school are members. ACS has helped us network with more established members of the legal community who are mentoring us and helping us become better lawyers. ACS has provided us with a unique forum for discussing important legal issues and learning from some of the most respected legal scholars and practitioners in the country. It also provides engaging literature on pressing legal issues. And the ACS blog keeps me up to date with important cases that impact my community and our Constitution. It truly is one of the great organizations of our time.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I became a memebr of a fledgling ACS Student Chapter when I was at the Oklahoma City University Law School in 2004. At the time the debate about constitutional/socia/political issues at the law school was dominated by the Federalist Society, an organization that represents a very conservative view in all those areas. However, our ACS Chapter, with great support from the National Organization was able to initiate a real debate on many ongoing critical issues, such as the war in Iraq, unauthorized government wire-tappings, corporate influence in government policy, and many other important issues and present opposing views on those through panels, speaker series, and debates. The organization helped us bring prominent speakers from around the country (including prominent Circuit Court judges and law professors) to the school to discuss ongoing issues. This was a very important exercise because many of the law students ultimately end up at leadership positions in the community and at least an exposure to opposing views could broaden their horizons and increase their tolerance towards them. This exercise and opportunity was even more crucial in a state such as Oklahoma, where conservative tendencies are vey strong. Interestingly, this was done in many instances in coordination with the Federalist Society, which again shows in a democratic society, ideas can and should all be heard and intelligently debated, without all reasonable voices drowning in the screams of ignorance and fanaticism. Overall, ACS has filled a very large void by providing an opportunity and structure for development and presentation of progressive ideas and interpretations of Constitution. A function that had been ignored for decades.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I love ACS's Constitution in the Classroom volunteer project. Such a great way to get out of the office and into the community to talk about a really important issue. More important each day with all the current negative propaganda and misconceptions about the Constitution in the news.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I have been a member of an ACS lawyer chapter since the organization was founded in 2001. During that time, I have seen an explosive growth in both the size and influence of the organization. ACS experts provide intellectual rigor and analysis in a variety of critical policy areas, and as a result, our courts are more fair and just for all Americans. A simply outstanding organization.