How We Can Help

The National Trust for Historic Preservation provides legal advocacy support and legal resources to communities and organizations throughout the country to strengthen and ensure the effectiveness of local, state and federal preservation laws.

Overview

Whether it's the potential loss of a family farm due to a federal highway project, a challenge to a local preservation ordinance, or a state's plan to demolish a historic bridge, the National Trust's staff attorneys protect places around the country that connect us to our history and make our communities unique.

On a daily basis, the National Trust handles a variety of preservation law issues through both direct participation in disputes between parties and through consultation with organizations, individuals and governmental entities. In general, creating an open dialogue among interested parties and providing educational information to the public about preservation laws are two important ways in which we achieve success.

Litigation

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. To find out more about the National Trust's current legal advocacy work, please visit our blog.

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. See a listing of substantial pro bono or sponsorship assistance given to the National Trust within the past year.

General Inquiries

General preservation law inquiries may be submitted to the Law Department via e-mail to law@nthp.org. Please include a detailed description of any relevant facts or issues in the body of your e-mail along with any other materials that may be helpful. Inquiries are also accepted via mail or fax:

National Trust for Historic Preservation
Law Department
1785 Massachusetts Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20036
Phone: 202-588-6035
Fax: 202-588-6272
E-Mail: law@nthp.org