Since its founding, Rails-to-Trails Conservancy has been the nation's foremost—and in most cases, the only—legal advocate for rail-trails in the nonprofit sector. Through the services of RTC's general counsel, the RTC Legal Program provides a wide range of legal services to assist trail managers, trail advocates and their legal counsel on legal issues across the country.
Guided by RTC's Public Policy Litigation Policies and Procedures, the Legal Program identifies, monitors and participates in cases or legal proceedings that potentially affect the policy framework for rail-trail conversions in the courts and before administrative agencies. RTC's litigation program depends on a network of pro bono lawyers who assist RTC in drafting legal briefs and presenting arguments to the courts. RTC's Legal Program has participated in numerous landmark rail-trail cases, including the 1990 case, Preseault v. ICC, wherein the constitutionality of the federal Railbanking Law was affirmed by the U.S. Supreme Court.
RTC's Legal Program also provides legal support to protect and enhance the policy framework supporting rail-trails in Congress and state legislatures and before federal agencies. The Legal Program provides advice and assistance on legal issues concerning rail-trail acquisition, development and maintenance through training, technical assistance, conferences and workshops, and the development of written materials on legal issues relating to rail-trail conversions .
During the past year, RTC has received, with gratitude, pro bono service from the following law firms:
- Jones Day—Cleveland, Ohio
- Morrison & Foerster LLP—San Diego, Calif., and Washington, D.C.
- K & L Gates—Pittsburgh, Pa.
- Charles Montange—Seattle, Wash.
- Zuckert Scout & Rasenberger L.L.P.—Washington, D.C.