Chuck Allen hadn’t been at the first session of the Alliance Defending Freedom Legal Academy long before he decided he didn’t fit the Allied Attorney profile. While he enjoyed the camaraderie of other Christian lawyers, he just didn’t see himself arguing religious freedom or family law cases.
“I’m an intellectual property attorney,” he remembers telling ADF staffers. “I don’t know how I can be useful to you guys.” Nearly 20 years later, he marvels at how quickly he learned. Over those two decades, he’s placed his skills and training in intellectual property law—trademarks, copyrights, patents—at the pro bono service of ADF clients. He’s been involved in everything from litigating family law to consulting on the Elane Photography case (the high-profile rights-of-conscience action in which ADF defended a New Mexico photographer penalized for declining to take photos at a same-sex commitment ceremony).
“It’s always rewarding,” he says. “I’ve had a number of intellectual property things come up, and I’m grateful that I’ve had that opportunity. All of us hope to live out our faith in our work. Even in those assignments we get that are not specifically faith-related, we nevertheless bring our faith to bear. But it’s always especially satisfying to be able to do something that seems to have a direct relationship to the kingdom of God.”
Allen came to private practice by way of the military, graduating from West Point and training as a judge advocate general before retiring a colonel and opening his own firm, Goodman, Allen, & Filetti, in Virginia. Earlier this year, he won one of the most important cases of his career, successfully representing the pro-life Radiance Foundation at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit. The crucial free speech lawsuit against the NAACP combined $100,000 in ADF financial grants, consultations from the ADF legal team, and amicus briefs filed by ADF allies.
Allen says the team effort was typical of ADF, which “takes very capable advocates, and arms them with the necessary financial support and training to be able to take on significant cases in their neighborhood—and in their own practice areas.” Even if that’s intellectual property law.
After all these years of professional association with ADF, Allen says he’s still surprised and pleased to find himself working on “cases where you have your hands and feet working for the kingdom of God, but you’re also able to use your own particular skills. That’s very satisfying.”