The American Constitution Society is the nation’s leading progressive legal organization, with Lawyer Chapters in nearly 50 cities and active organizing efforts in a number of other locations. Through a diverse nationwide network of progressive lawyers, judges, scholars and many others, we work to uphold the Constitution in the 21st Century by ensuring that law is a force for protecting our democracy and the public interest and for improving people’s lives. Our chapters hold public programs across the country each year, generating “intellectual capital” for ready use by progressive allies and shaping debates on key legal and public policy issues. A list of all ACS Lawyer Chapters is available here. If you are interested in helping to organize a Lawyer Chapter, please contact us at LCEmails@acslaw.org or 202-393-6181.
ACS also works to cultivate the next generation of progressive leaders. We use our extensive national network to assist our members with career development, mentorship, and job assistance. Our members get access to job banks, special conference calls, and the opportunity to network with progressive leaders throughout the country. Access our member job bank here.
Lawyers of ACS
Joel Dodge (he/him)
Co-Chair, New York Lawyer Chapter
I grew up in a middle-class family in Syracuse, New York. I went to a state college and received a partial scholarship to attend law school. As the first lawyer in my family, I helped pay for my education by working at a grocery store.
My mom is a nurse, and imparted to me the importance of caring for the least well off. My dad was involved in local politics when I was younger, and took me canvassing and to political functions. He shared his liberal values with me, as well as his broader faith in civic engagement and the democratic process to make people’s lives better.
My parents also emphasized the importance of ideas. That is what made a career in law most appealing to me: the notion that a powerful idea and persuasive argument could advance justice and better people’s lives. While finishing law school, I became interested in the lawsuit against the Affordable Care Act, King v. Burwell, which threatened to take away healthcare for millions. I developed with a novel legal argument in defense of the ACA which I published on my personal blog, and then worked with a professor to convert into an amicus brief filed at the Supreme Court. My defense of the ACA was discussed by multiple Supreme Court Justices at oral argument.
Right after graduation, I started my legal career at Stroock & Stroock & Lavan doing commercial litigation, election law, and significant pro bono work. After almost three years at the firm, I moved into public interest work following the 2016 election. I joined the Center for Reproductive Rights working to ensure access to reproductive healthcare, where I have helped work on legal strategy around two major Supreme Court cases — June Medical Services v. Russo, and now Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health.
I have also used my legal training to contribute to the world of public policy ideas. I’ve written for a number of publications about public policy (including for ACS), and have served as a policy adviser to several candidates for public office.
I have also sought to help develop the next generation of legal leaders by teaching a legal practice workshop at Columbia Law School and mentoring law students through ACS. ACS is an invaluable network for thought leadership, mobilization, and community. I especially appreciated ACS as a refuge during the Trump administration where concerned lawyers could connect to mount a defense of American values and institutions. And now, it is a wellspring of ideas for the future of progressive legal and policy thinking, and a forceful voice for a more fair-minded judiciary. I look forward to being part of the ACS family for many years to come, and working side by side with other ACS attorneys to continue the work of achieving our country.
Read more from Joel and previous Lawyers of ACS here.
2021 National Convention
This year’s 2021 ACS National Convention took place virtually from June 7 to June 11. This year’s convention focused on the Constitution’s “founding failures” when it comes to race and equality in this country, and reckoning with our past to create a more just future. Thank you to all who attended and made this event such a success!
To view the recordings of this year’s 2021 programming click here.
ACS Stands With the Civil Rights Community, Condemning Racism and Violence
As ACS President Russ Feingold and ACS Executive Vice President Zinelle October said in their joint statement last summer, we at ACS are grieving over the recent murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, Ahmaud Arbery, and countless others at the hands of police. These murders and acts of violence are rooted in systemic racism and we stand with our Black and Brown communities who feel this pain most acutely.
ACS is committed to be a part of the change that’s so desperately needed. While we revere the Constitution, defend democracy, and work toward a more just union, we cannot ignore the racist history of our nation’s founding documents. We must continue to work to uphold and insist that our leaders uphold the Constitution in the 21st Century by ensuring that law is a force for protecting our democracy and the public interest and for improving people’s lives—including the lives of Black and Brown people.
Although ACS Chapters can be found in almost every major metropolitan area, there are many who are unable to join one of our existing, location-based chapters due to a variety of circumstances such as a disability, physical location, or work schedule. That is why we launched our At-Large Chapter in 2019: to provide access to progressive programming on critical issues and create avenues to engage with the entire ACS network through an innovative and online-based platform.
Learn more about the At-Large Chapter here.
COVID-19 and ACS Reimbursement Policy
We are advising that chapter events be planned virtually through the spring. Given the uncertainty and the lack of safety surrounding in-person events at this time, we are also halting funding and reimbursements for event and travel costs. As you are organizing events, if there are anticipated costs, please reach out to your ACS national liaison to further discuss.
If you need help planning a virtual event, please reach out to your ACS national liaison or email LCEmails@acslaw.org.
Join ACS or renew now and your membership will be current through the end of 2021, a critical year of growth and impact for ACS. Help us invest in ACS chapters, chapter programs, networking, pipeline development, and mentorship work. Thank you for your support!
Continuing Legal Education (CLE)
CLE Credits are a great way to attract new members to an ACS Lawyer Chapter event as well as encourage and incentivize programming attendance for busy ACS lawyers. More on how to apply for CLE here.
Keep up-to-date with all of ACS’s impeachment resources here.
If you need ideas for an event, try checking out one of our program guides!
2021 Model Calendar
ACS’s Tax Exemption Federal Letter
Lawyer Chapter Handbook
Membership Form (One Pager)
Sample Event Sign-in Sheet
Sample Lawyer Chapter Constitution
Social Media Guidelines
Speaker Release Form
Election 2020 Checklist
Meghan Paulas, Vice-President of Network Advancement, firstname.lastname@example.org
Peggy Li, Director of Chapters, email@example.com
Jordan Blisk, Associate Director of Chapters, firstname.lastname@example.org
Michelle Herd, Associate Director of Chapters, email@example.com
Christopher Lin, Assistant Director of Chapters, firstname.lastname@example.org
Bridget Lawson, Assistant Director of Chapters, email@example.com
Olu Adeosun, Chapters Associate, firstname.lastname@example.org
Who do I contact to:
Get an RSVP list?
Get an email sent to my list?
Change my city/contact information?
Request event funding? Get help with programming and/or speaker ideas?
LCEmails@acslaw.org or your National contact
Get involved with pro bono or volunteer opportunities?
Seek media advice or guidance?
Find my local chapter?
All of our Lawyer Chapters are listed here.