Our Mission

The National Lawyers Guild is an association dedicated to the need for basic change in the structure of our political and economic system. We seek to unite the lawyers, law students, legal workers and jailhouse lawyers of America in an organization that shall function as an effective political and social force in the service of the people, to the end that human rights shall be regarded as more sacred than property interests.

Our aim is to bring together all those who recognize the importance of safeguarding and extending the rights of workers, women, farmers and minority groups, upon whom the welfare of the entire nation depends; who seek actively to eliminate racism; who work to maintain and protect our civil rights and liberties in the face of persistent attacks upon them; and who look upon the law as an instrument for the protection of the people, rather than for their repression.

The Organization

The National Lawyers Guild is a non-profit federation of lawyers, legal workers, and law students. Since 1937, Guild members have been using the law to advance social justice and support progressive social movements. We have chapters throughout the United States, and our National Office is located in New York City.

If you are interested in learning more about the National Lawyers Guild, we hope you will spend some time browsing these pages. If you have any questions, feel free to contact our National Office. We look forward to having you join in our mission.

Our Chapter

We are the Chicago chapter of America’s only bar organization that admits non-attorneys on equal footing with attorneys and law professors. Alongside lawyers, our members include paralegals, investigators, law students, and jailhouse lawyers. Together, we work through the law for fundamental social change.

NLG Chicago’s membership includes people who practice and teach law, provide support services for major firms and solo practitioners, work in community-based organizations, and study to be the next generation of progressive lawyers in Chicago, the Midwest, and America.

Our attorney members practice in nearly every area of the law, from criminal defense to civil rights to personal injury and real estate. We are active outside the courtroom, conference room, and law library. You will see us in the streets. Where will we see you?

What makes the National Lawyers Guild different from any other legal organization?

Since the 1930s, the National Lawyers Guild has tirelessly worked to advance human and civil rights. We have played a critical role in providing legal support to those active in the labor, civil rights, economic rights, international human rights, racial justice, anti-war, and many other movements.

How Does the Guild Accomplish its Work?

The National Lawyers Guild—on the national level—is an extensive network of progressive members of the legal community. Being a member of the Guild means that you will be part of a rich exchange of ideas, strategies, and skills between members from around the country. On the local level, the Guild builds community and support between like-minded members of the legal profession.


Much of the work of the National Lawyers Guild is accomplished through a number of national committees doing cutting edge work on a range of 21st century social issues.  For example, the Military Law Task Force of the NLG is active in supporting GI Rights and defending service-people who are resisting war. The Labor and Employment Committee is active in supporting worker centers and workers’ rights across the country. Meanwhile, the Committee for Democratic Communications is speaking out against the corporate takeover of media.  These and other committees provide a great way to get involved in our important work, and to share strategies and skills on specific issues with other members.

For a full list of the Guild’s committees and projects, click here.

Further Reading


About the Guild by Peter Erlinder