July 30, 2019
July 2019: Michael Meuti
Michael Meuti (he/him)
Member, ACS Northeast Ohio Chapter Board of Directors
I owe a lot to Bush v. Gore. During the summer of 2001, I was still trying to make sense of what the U.S. Supreme Court had done in that case and wondering how the law could be rescued from the cramped, outcome-oriented brand of jurisprudence that was ascendant. Enter ACS.
Fortunately, Bush v. Gore spurred some other law students to organize. The New York Times ran an article about something then called the Madison Society that then-Professor Peter Rubin kicked off at Georgetown. The idea was to provide a home for progressive lawyers, professors, judges, and law students, where they could hone their ideas, grow their networks, and take back the law from the reactionaries who were then in power.
I was intrigued.
I emailed Peter Rubin to get the green light, emailed some friends from law school who were scattered about the country that summer, and started planning how we’d get the Stanford Law School Chapter off the ground. We set a date for our first steering-committee meeting: September 11, 2001.
Needless to say, we rescheduled that meeting. And we found a renewed purpose, as the country faced challenges that it had never had to face on that scale: how to balance security and civil liberties. That challenge provided the topic one of our first events, which filled the law school’s largest lecture hall plus half of the overflow room where we broadcasted the event live.
I was hooked.
I’ve been hooked for about 18 years now. Since law school, I’ve worked in four cities. In three of them, I’ve served on the local ACS Chapter’s Executive Board. In one, I co-founded a Chapter. Through ACS, I’ve met more fascinating people than I can count—from sitting Senators, judges, and Justices; to leaders in the bars and on the benches in communities where I’ve practiced; to Ricky Jackson and Jarrett Adams, who spent a combined 46 years in prison for crimes that they never committed, but used their years after exoneration to inspire others. ACS has truly opened doors.
Beyond that, ACS has given me a place in Ohio’s legal community. It’s given me leadership opportunities that early-career legal work often doesn’t provide. Through ACS, I’ve developed deep relationships among my Executive Board colleagues, and as I’ve grown from an early-career lawyer to a mid-career lawyer, working with ACS has led to opportunities that otherwise would have been inaccessible. My work with ACS has been one of the best parts of my legal career, and ironically, I owe it all to one of the worst opinions of the last hundred years.