Meet Cristian Reyes, 2017 Legal Fellow

ARI invites law students to join the Legal Fellowship program. The fellowship is a unique program, in which law students do in-depth policy research on topics at the intersection of law and philosophy. Our legal fellows work with ARI’s director of Legal Studies Steve Simpson, an experienced constitutional lawyer who for many years worked at the Institute for Justice. Today we’d like to introduce you to one of the 2017 legal fellows: Cristian Reyes, a recent graduate of Southwestern Law School in Los Angeles.

What’s your background? What did you study? In undergrad I studied Medieval European History at UC Irvine. I then studied law at Southwestern School of Law and Business Administration at the Drucker School of Management.

So, what are you working on as a legal fellow? I am currently doing research for a book on free speech and political correctness for Steve Simpson.

How did you discover Ayn Rand? I discovered Ayn Rand when a friend of mine, who was a philosophy major and reading Atlas Shrugged, suggested I read the book.

What do you have to say to people who might be finding Ayn Rand’s ideas for the first time? I would say to give her ideas a chance. Many people are initially put off by Rand’s ideas of individualism and altruism because popular culture portrays her ideas in an unflattering and often inaccurate way. But there is much nuance and complexity to her ideas, so if people take the time to analyze and understand her philosophy, I think people might find much to like about what she says.

Where do you think that Ayn Rand’s ideas needed the most today? I think the ideas of Ayn Rand and her conception of individual liberty and rationality are most needed on college campuses. There seems to be a growing contingent of collectivist-minded college students who are irrationally insisting on stamping out free speech on college campuses because that speech is disagreeable to their beliefs. Accordingly, I think Rand’s ideas about individuality and upholding the ideas of Western civilization are necessary on college campuses to prevent free speech from being suppressed.

What are you currently reading? Violence and Social Orders by Douglass North, John Wallis, and Barry Weingast, and Institutional Theory in Political Science by B. Guy Peters.

What did you want to be when you grew up? An animator for Disney.

Would you recommend others to become a legal fellow? I would absolutely recommend becoming a legal fellow. It is a wonderful opportunity to work on interesting research with highly intelligent scholars who are putting out fascinating and provocative research.

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If you think that ARI’s Legal Fellowship sounds interesting, and you would like to apply for next year’s program, then please send your resume/CV and cover letter to

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