SACRAMENTO – Pacific Legal Foundation's new president and CEO Steven Anderson has high and ambitious plans for the public interest legal organization.
"As PLF's president, I plan to take the Foundation to an even greater level of national prominence and sophistication," Anderson said during a Northern California Record interview. "When government acts beyond its constitutionally defined limits and infringes on our rights, everyone across the country will know that PLF is the organization that fights back to win and protect our individual liberties. To do that, I hope to enhance and accelerate the already existing momentum of success, imbue the Foundation with a defining ethos encapsulated in part by boldness, creativity, innovation and optimism, and invest in our biggest resource – our talented staff."
Anderson was named president and CEO by Pacific Legal Foundation’s board of trustees, an appointment announced in a foundation press release issued last week. Anderson, who comes to the foundation from the Institute of Justice where he's been executive vice president, is expected to take up his new post Sept. 1. He succeeds Robin L. Rivett, who retired in May after a decade as the foundation's president.
“We are thrilled to have a dynamic and demonstrated leader like Steven Anderson join the PLF team at such a pivotal time in the organization’s history,” Pacific Legal Foundation board of trustees Chair Greg M. Evans was quoted in the foundation press release. “Steven has an optimistic vision and comprehensive strategy to take PLF to even greater levels of growth and prominence in the national arena. With his thoughtfulness and diverse leadership skills as a senior manager, the future of PLF is incredibly bright.”
Established in 1973, Pacific Legal Foundation is the oldest and most successful public interest legal organization. Its stated goals are fighting for limited government, property rights, individual rights and a balanced approach to environmental protection.
Anderson told the Northern California Record that even when he was in law school he suspected his legal career would not be conventional.
"I went to law school always knowing that I might not practice law in the traditional sense," he said. "That's part of what attracted me to law school in the first place. I was relatively young coming out of college and understood that this particular professional degree could open upon lots of doors after graduation. And while I started as a litigator at a standard law firm, I quickly realized that my interest and abilities would be better suited in the world of policy and ideas. I was more motivated to do something that could shape the future of the country in a way that has more fidelity to the principles of our founding. So, a dozen years ago, I made the switch to public-interest law and haven't looked back."
The Norfolk, Virginia native earned his undergraduate degree from the University of Virginia, and his law degree from Wake Forest University. Prior to joining Institute of Justice, Anderson practiced law in both Virginia and North Carolina and taught legal research, writing and advocacy at George Washington University Law School.
Anderson advised up-and-coming attorneys who want service to be a part of their law career to not overlook any opportunities that come along.
"Take advantage of all opportunities that are available to you," Anderson said. "Thankfully, these days, there are many more organizations out there focused on law and policy that offer programs suited to law students. Find them and participate. Also, it's important to let folks know that you're interested. Network and stay on their radar screen. There may not be positions now, but at least at PLF, if you're smart and passionate and want to make a difference, we'll try to make a place for you."