Freedom of Information Act Bootcamp Returns March 13 to Shine Light on Transparency Laws

Brick façade and slate roof of Sterling Law Building and a leafy tree against a cloudy sky

The Media Freedom and Information Access Clinic (MFIA) and the Abrams Institute for Freedom of Expression will hold their next Freedom of Information Act Bootcamp at Yale Law School on March 13. 

For more than a decade, the annual bootcamp has brought experienced investigative journalists and seasoned media lawyers to New Haven to help equip students, academics, journalists, activists, and others to make the most out of the Freedom of Information Act, which gives the public the right to request access to records from federal agencies. The event, which is open to all, will also provide attendees with legal tools and practical pointers to effectively work with state transparency laws, and to make federal, state, and local governments more open and accountable. 

This year’s event will feature award-winning New York Times journalist Eric Lipton and ProPublica General Counsel Jeremy Kutner ’12, who will share their insights and provide tips on how to make the most of Freedom of Information Act requests. The discussion will cover everything from identifying when a FOIA request can aid an investigation or piece of research, to drafting an effective request, to dealing with FOIA officers and understanding how best to make the system work without going to court. 

Reporting at The New York Times for more than two decades, Eric Lipton regularly uses FOIA as part of his investigative stories. Responses to FOIA requests have formed the basis for some of his most hard-hitting reporting, including revelations in 2018 about the Trump administration’s attacks on the Environmental Protection Agency that were unearthed through FOIA requests with the assistance of MFIA. 

A MFIA alumnus, Jeremy Kutner provides legal advice to an independent, nonprofit newsroom that regularly produces investigative journalism in the public interest. He has litigated several important FOIA and court access cases, including a successful 15-month battle to unseal search warrants of a South Dakota billionaire issued in a child pornography investigation. Kutner has also served as a New York Times First Amendment fellow and worked at the national media-law boutique firm Levine Sullivan Koch & Schulz.

The bootcamp will feature brief presentations by the speakers followed by ample opportunity for questions. The event will take place from 6-7:30 p.m. on March 13 in Room 129 of Yale Law School’s Sterling Law Building. No registration is required. Snacks will be served.

The Media Freedom and Information Access Clinic (MFIA) is a law student clinic dedicated to increasing government transparency, defending the essential work of news gatherers, and protecting freedom of expression by providing pro bono legal services, pursuing impact litigation and developing policy initiatives.

The Floyd Abrams Institute for Freedom of Expression at Yale Law School promotes freedom of speech, freedom of the press, access to information and government transparency. The Institute’s activities are grounded on the belief that collaboration between the academy and the bar will enrich both scholarship and practice.