When historic resources are at risk, the first inclination may be to sue a governmental entity or private actor. It should come as no surprise that litigation is expensive, but more importantly, litigation is not always the most efficient and effective way of achieving a preservation victory. This is why the National Trust's first line of action is to avoid the need to go to court at all. It achieves this goal by advocating for better government decisions that will protect historic sites, neighborhoods and landscapes.
In limited instances when advocacy alone is not enough, litigation may become the only alternative. When this occurs, the National Trust may decide to provide legal support as an amicus curiae, or friend of the court. In this role, the National Trust files a legal brief with a court, which typically provides a broader legal understanding of a given preservation law issue or provides a national perspective for a court to consider. In more limited situations, the National Trust, with the help of pro bono counsel, may either institute its own lawsuit or join an existing lawsuit as an additional party.
For further information, please see the National Trust's litigation policy.
Supporting Legal Advocacy
Funding for the legal advocacy and litigation efforts of the National Trust is supported by the National Trust's membership dues, general donations and foundation grants. Our staff's efforts are also leveraged with generous pro bono assistance from dedicated lawyers in the private bar.