Our Mission | Climate Science Legal Defense Fund

The Climate Science Legal Defense Fund (CSLDF) protects the scientific endeavor by putting our legal expertise to work for scientists who are threatened or silenced for doing their jobs. Our efforts and educational resources preserve and expand scientists’ rights and strengthen legal protections to promote scientific integrity.

We achieve our mission by:
  • Offering free legal aid to scientists
  • Educating researchers about their rights and responsibilities
  • Sharing strategies and information about cases with attorneys
  • Publicizing attacks on science — because knowledge is power

Our goal is to protect the right of scientists to pursue and publicize their research. The continuation of their work is critical to our survival and the success of future generations.

How We’re Making a Difference in the War on Science

When scientists find themselves targeted by the anti-science movement, they turn to us. Since 2011, we’ve assisted hundreds of researchers by providing legal counsel, matching them with pro bono legal representation, and filing amici curiae — “friend of the court” — briefs in their cases.

We also develop and lead legal education initiatives for scientists and attorneys. These include workshops, webinars, and publications, which are sometimes offered in collaboration with other organizations, such as the American Civil Liberties Union and American Geophysical Union.

Our work helps scientists focus on their research instead of frivolous lawsuits and avoid hundreds of thousands of dollars of legal fees. And it prevents anti-science groups from discrediting climate science and intimidating researchers.

We defend the scientific endeavor because attacks on science aren’t just damaging to the researchers involved. These attacks infringe on important principles of academic freedom and threaten scientific progress on some of the world’s most pressing issues.


Meet Our Team

We’re a focused, tenacious and passionate group. Our diverse team includes lawyers, scientists, professors, filmmakers, media professionals, and fundraising experts.

Katharine Hayhoe

Scientists’ Stories

Hear directly from climate scientists about what it’s like to be threatened with legal attacks or harassed by politically and ideologically motivated groups.

Know Your Rights

While the risk of legal attack on any individual scientist is small, there are actions scientists can take to help reduce the risk of attack, especially from invasive FOIA requests.

Our History

The Climate Science Legal Defense Fund was established in 2011 by Scott Mandia, Joshua Wolfe, and Charles Zeller. The group came together in response to increasing legal attacks on climate scientists and the immediate need to help defray the legal costs of an ideologically motivated lawsuit against the University of Virginia and atmospheric scientist Dr. Michael Mann.

The initial effort raised over $100,000 to pay for Mann’s legal bills. Following years of litigation, the Virginia Supreme Court ruled in Mann’s favor in spring 2014.

Following this success, and in realization of the need to become a stronger, more permanent organization, Naomi Oreskes, a Harvard University science historian and author of Merchants of Doubt, and Jeff Masters, founder of Weather Underground Inc., joined what later became the organization’s founding board.

As we grew, we added to the legal support and education services we provide the climate science community. These now include legal clinics at major scientific gatherings, workshops, webinars, and continuing legal education courses for attorneys.

In 2015, we gained 501(c)3 status and hired our first executive director, Lauren Kurtz. We now have a staff of five, as well as a committed group of pro-bono attorneys, law professors, and other volunteers who help us achieve our mission.

Legal Advice?

Contact us with
questions or concerns.
We’re here for you.

Our opponents won’t go quietly

Your donation ensures that scientists can continue their
work without harassment.

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