Legal Observers

Legal Observers® for May Protests

NLG Legal Observers®, with their ubiquitous neon green hats, have been a fixture at marches and demonstrations in Chicago and nationwide for years.  Thus, NLG Chicago’s Legal Observer® Program, a part of NLG Chicago’s Mass Defense Committee, is working to ensure we have trained Legal Observers® on the ground for the upcoming actions in May.  This work is part of the Mass Defense Committee’s NATO Legal Support Project, which is a  comprehensive program providing a range of legal support in defense of NATO protestors:

  • conducting specialized “know-your-rights” workshops;
  • organizing and training volunteer Legal Observers™ to assist the public to exercise their rights to freedom of speech, expression, and assembly;
  • monitoring law enforcement activity for possible misconduct;
  • staffing a dedicated legal office with a 24/7 emergency hotline; and
  • providing legal representation to people arrested in the exercise of their First Amendment rights.

To Request Legal Observers®

The NLG is here to support your organization!  To help you most effectively, we need notice (when possible).  We encourage organizers to contact us as soon as practicable prior to the action, so that we can increase our ability to mobilize our volunteers and provide LOs.  We consider your request for Legal Observers® to be privileged legal communication and information provided will be kept confidential in accordance with applicable law.

To request LOs for your activity, please email chicago.lo.program at with the following information:

  • Goals for your demonstration/activity
  • What you may expect (even if you aren’t sure) from people coming to your demonstration
  • What you may expect from the police
  • An estimate of how many activists will be present at the demonstration or activity
  • Date, location, and duration of the demonstration or activity

NOTE:  The only way the Guild can ensure that Legal Observers® will be out in full force to your action is with a formal request via e-mail.   Thank you in advance for helping us help you!

To Volunteer 

We need you to help us protect free speech and progressive activism.  Join us.  To volunteer, please e-mail us at chicago.lo.program at  We will let you know when the  next Legal Observer® training will be held.  Trainings are short (about an hour) and are offered throughout the week and over the weekends.  In addition, if you have more than 10 trainees, we are happy to come to your organization to conduct the training!