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Gift for Online Library Protects Free Speech Rights Nationwide

The McLellan Free Expression Online Library, named for Richard D. McLellan (front, center), will offer guidance at a click to students across the country.

Photo of some of the MSU College of Law Trustees with Richard McLellan in the front, center.

Gift for Online Library Protects Free Speech Rights Nationwide

MSU Law’s First Amendment Law Clinic is the only clinical program in the country solely dedicated to the protection of student speech and press rights. Now, a $500,000 donation from leading Michigan attorney and MSU Law Trustee Richard D. McLellan will expand the clinic’s impact nationwide by creating an online library.

The McLellan Free Expression Online Library will provide answers to legal questions and links to hundreds of sources on topics such as student censorship, invasion of privacy, social media speech, libel and copyright issues.

“My own high school experiences taught me the importance of protecting those rights,” Richard said. “I thought about what I wanted to support with this gift, and I realized, throughout my life, free speech was always a topic I was passionate about. This clinic will give student journalists tools to stand up against unlawful infringement.”

Since 2010, 5,000 students at 34 Michigan high schools have learned about free speech and press rights via MSU’s First Amendment Law Clinic. The McLellan Free Expression Online Library will offer guidance at a click to students across the country.

The library testifies to Richard’s lifelong advocacy of First Amendment principles in public policy. During his time at the Dykema law firm, he led the firm’s Government Policy & Practice Group. He also served as a special assistant attorney general and was twice appointed by the Michigan Supreme Court as a Commissioner of the State Bar of Michigan. Nationally, he was an advisor to the Commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration and a member of the National Advisory Food and Drug Committee.

The Detroit Free Press describes him as “the most influential person in Michigan you never heard of.”

Clif Haley, board member and MSU Law president emeritus, says: “There is not a Michigan policy written in the last 50 years that does not have at least a smudge of his fingerprints on it.”

Learn more about making a gift the College of Law by contacting Director of Development Tina Casoli at or call (517) 432-6840.


Author: Lois Furry