The Guild is both a professional association and an activist organization. Our founding goal, in 1937, was to be a home for American lawyers of all races. In the 70s, at the insistence of a new generation of feminist lawyers, the NLG became the first bar association to admit law students and non-attorneys working in the law.
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Guild members across the country are leaders in civil and criminal law, in academia, in legal organizations and the judiciary. Different sectors of the Guild sponsor CLEs and trainings to advance the skills of our membership, as well as host conferences and forums to discuss the legal and political issues related to the work that we do.
As a member of the National Lawyers Guild you will receive Guild Notes—our national newsletter—covering a wide range of issues and news relevant to the progressive legal community. Members also receive National Lawyers Guild Review—our legal academic journal—addressing contemporary issues around practice and jurisprudence. The Guild also publishes a number of books, delegation reports, and materials of great use and interest to our members and others.
As a member of the Guild, you can participate in one of our national committees. For a full list of the Guild’s committees and projects, click here.
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.
Law students make up our fastest growing membership group with over 100 law school chapters. Students are full members of the organization and participate in national and local programmatic committees, attend seminars, join international delegations, and serve on the national board. Students are actively involved in all areas of the Guild—bringing creativity, energy, skills and experience to our work. The Guild also presents an opportunity for students to learn from and network with progressive attorneys.
Legal workers play a vital role in the Guild and the movement for social justice. A “legal worker” is defined as a person actively engaged in work of a legal nature including paralegals, administrators of legal services, education or information, and members of legal collectives. One of our most dynamic and burgeoning groups, legal workers are often committed activists who have found a home within the Guild. Guild legal workers include:
The National Lawyers Guild is the only bar association that welcomes Jailhouse Lawyers as full members. We regularly update the Jailhouse Lawyer’s Handbook, which details the procedure for challenging poor prison conditions and abuses by prison staff.