Pacific Legal Foundation was founded in 1973 by members of then-Governor Ronald Reagan’s staff as the first public interest law firm dedicated to the principles of individual rights and limited government. Early public interest law firms had achieved heroic work defending individual rights, such as the rights to free speech and equal protection under the law. In the 1960s and early 70s, however, the public interest law movement took a notably collectivist turn. The nation needed an effective legal advocate inspired by the American ideals of individualism and liberty to enforce real constitutional limits on government power. PLF was created to lead the fight.
We began with our first office in Sacramento, California, and soon after opened our doors in Washington, DC, followed by Florida and Washington State. Across the country, PLF attorneys work tirelessly on behalf of vulnerable individuals and small businesses whose rights are threatened by overreaching legislative and executive power. In courtrooms throughout the country, we’ve represented thousands of individuals who simply sought to live responsibly and productively in pursuit of happiness.
In 1987 we secured a victory in Nollan v. California Coastal Commission, taught today as a landmark case in the property law classes of every American law school. After Nollan we marched back to the Court to win ten more victories, putting government in its proper place. Our Supreme Court track record is unmatched by any organization devoted to individual rights, on par with the ACLU but at a fraction of their budget.
Over the past four decades, we’ve learned what it takes to litigate the right cases with the right arguments at the right time to establish the most broad-based precedent in our five areas of legal expertise. But even with our successes, we understand that liberty tends to yield when left unguarded—which is why we continue to innovate and lead the freedom-based public interest legal movement that we created.