The National Lawyers Guild (“NLG”) is an association dedicated to the need for basic change in the structure of our political and economic system. The group seeks to unite the lawyers, law students, legal workers, and jailhouse lawyers of America in an organization that functions 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.
NLG’s aim is to bring together all those who recognize the importance of safeguarding and extending the rights of workers, women, farmers, people with disabilities, and people of color, upon whom the welfare of the entire nation depends; who seek actively to eliminate racism; who work to maintain and protect 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.
Founded in 1937, NLG was the nation’s first racially integrated bar association. During its 65-year history, NLG has been an important part of the American people’s struggle for real democracy, for economic and social justice, and against oppression and discrimination based on race, ethnicity, immigration status, class, gender, or sexual orientation.
In the 1930s, NLG lawyers helped organize the United Auto Workers and the Congress of Industrial Organizations, and supported the New Deal in the face of determined ABA opposition. In the 1940s, NLG lawyers fought against fascists in the Spanish Civil War and World War II, and helped to prosecute Nazis at Nuremberg. NLG lawyers fought racial discrimination in cases such as Hansberry v. Lee, the case that struck down segregationist Jim Crow laws in Chicago and entered our culture as Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun. The NLG was one of the non-governmental organizations selected by the U.S. government to officially represent the American people at the founding of the United Nations in 1945. These are only a few of the NLG’s past accomplishments. The NLG Website contains a complete history, and the group invites people to join them in continuing the tradition of speaking truth to power.
In addition to working for political and economic progressive change, NLG committees work on more specific issues. A sampling of NLG’s committee and caucus topics include anti-racism, anti-sexism (Women’s Caucus), disability rights, international, labor and employment, Queer Caucus, Middle East, prison law, United People of Color, and military law. Recent topics of interest include Guantanamo Bay detainees, the green scare, the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act, anti-war mobilization, environmental justice, and more.