Case Study: Tom’s Story

Tom W. Bell came to IHS when he attended a Summer Seminar in 1988, and he has been closely associated with IHS ever since. After completing a master’s in philosophy at the University of Southern California, he worked at IHS for a year as a program assistant before heading off to law school at the University of Chicago, benefiting from IHS fellowships, career programs, and mentoring as he earned his JD.

Initially he practiced law in Silicon Valley and Washington, D.C., but he jumped at the chance to enter the field of teaching—not only as a law faculty but also conducting IHS seminars over the years.

Twenty-seven years after attending his first IHS event as a master’s student, Professor Bell received the 2015 Charles G. Koch Outstanding IHS Alum award for his dedication and contributions to the classical liberal tradition. 

Today, Professor Bell teaches at the Fowler School of Law at Chapman University in Southern California, where he helps his students and others understand the importance of the rule of law, property rights, free speech, free markets, and limited government. In addition to publishing legal research, he has provided commentary to various prestigious outlets, including the Wall Street Journal, The Economist, The Los Angeles Times, and CNN. In 2014 Bell published, Intellectual Privilege: Copyright, Common Law, and the Common Good, which landed on the Wall Street Journal’s “Books of the Year” list.. Most recently, Bell published, Your Next Government? From the Nation State to Stateless Nations in 2018. He continues to write and teach a variety of legal concepts, and he even consults with governments and companies working to start charter cities, putting his research into practice.