Need a lawyer to help you with your public records request?
Some requests need more than just expertise to move them along. Our guide to public record legal support should help you connect with the right resource.
This guide is not a comprehensive catalog of all the ways to find legal counsel for all the reasons you might need it. But if you need a lawyer to help you pursue a public records request, we do have a few suggestions:
Public Citizen‘s FOIA Litigation program will support individuals, community groups, and organizations in taking a records fight to the courts.
The Cyberlaw Clinic at Harvard’s Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society provides pro-bono legal services on issues relating to the Internet, technology, and intellectual property. They’re particularly interested in securing access to knowledge and information, including through open government and transparency, with respect to public and private technical systems that impact members of vulnerable populations.
MuckRock’s state pages include both individual lawyers and advocacy organizations that can help you with a request.
The National Freedom of Information Coalition maintains a map of state-level organizations working to protect access to information in their state. Each of those organizations is expert in the state they work in.
Reporters Committee for the Freedom of the Press maintains FOIA Wiki, an in-depth guide to federal FOIA, as well as an Open Government Guide that covers state-level laws. The state pages were each authored by an attorney or legal team with expertise in their state.
Free Expression Law Network is a consortium of law school-based First Amendment legal clinics. They tend to work on a school semester schedule, but some cases are a perfect fit for a clinic.
Resources for Reporters
If you’re in a newsroom, your news organization may actually have legal counsel that can help you with an appeal. Staff reporters often forget about that option.
ProJourn provides no-cost legal help with pre-publication review and public records access to small news organizations, nonprofit newsrooms, documentary filmmakers and freelancers.
Reporters Committee for the Freedom of the Press runs a legal hotline that may be able to help you.
AIR maintains a roundup of legal resources for podcast and radio producers who need help with a range of issues, including records access, as well as contracts and defamation and other issues that are beyond the scope of MuckRock.