national lawyers guild
THE NATIONAL LAWYERS GUILD is national non-proﬁt legal and political organization of lawyers, legal workers, law students and jailhouse lawyers. We represent progressive political movements, using the law to protect human rights above property interests and to attain social justice.
In December of 1936 a group of 25 lawyers from several eastern cities met at the City Club in New York to discuss the merits of creating a new national bar association. What they had in mind was an organization to effectively oppose many of the positions then being taken by the American Bar Association, and to build in their place a world where law works for the people. At this time the American Bar Association did not allow women, people of color, or those outside the christian faith.
The NLG was founded in 1937 as an association of progressive lawyers and jurists who believed that they had a major role to play in the reconstruction of legal values to emphasize human rights over property rights. More than 600 lawyers from across the country met at the Hotel Washington in Washington, D.C. for the founding convention of the National Lawyers Guild. The lawyers had convened in response to a call sent out three months earlier, and the speed with which the organization took shape reflected the urgent need that many felt for a progressive legal organization. The Guild is the oldest and most extensive network of public interest and human rights activists working within the legal system.
The overarching goal of the National Lawyers Guild (NLG) is to bring together students who look upon the law as an instrument for the protection of the people, rather than for their oppression; who recognize the importance of safeguarding the economic and social freedoms, protections, and rights of people everywhere; and who seek justice and work to maintain and protect our civil rights and liberties in the face of persistent attacks upon them.
As a member of the National Lawyers Guild, you join thousands of others who have dedicated their lives and careers to the proposition that the law should serve the people. You help determine the direction of the Guild, and you help make us a stronger community of like-minded individuals working for social change. Each lawyer, law student, legal worker or jailhouse lawyer who joins our ranks brings us another step closer to a just world.
We benefit from both the stability and experience of our long-standing members and from the vitality of our newer members who carry on our legacy with a sense of urgency and energy. While the Guild has grown older and wiser, our nation’s leaders have not. The Guild is a dynamic, living organization made up of members who never stop challenging themselves and who never rest in their quest for justice.
As a member of the Guild, your work puts the power of the law back into the hands of the people. Contact the national membership coordinator if you have any questions or ideas you would like to share.
The Vermont Law School Chapter
The VLS NLG chapter maintains a radical presence on campus. Reborn out of the recent struggles in Vermont and around the world, we have reformed and refocused our efforts to promote human rights and social change. We also strive to strengthen ties between the student body and the the local and national community by supporting local activists through hosting Legal Observer and Know Your Rights trainings. Further we continue to work for human rights in new ways by promoting and fundraising for conferences, a radical speakers series, and organizing participation in direct actions. In addition, we inform the community and organize participation at public hearings, petitions, and social movements. As well as informing the community about public comments opportunities and organizing effective public writing trainings.
As the number one environmental law school in the country, the VLS chapter has a strong interest in the environmental, climate, energy, animal rights, as well as food and agricultural movements. However, our chapter has worked on a broad range of other social justice movements and campaigns including gender equality, LGBTQQIA equality, migrant farm workers protection, campaign financing, death penalty, prisoner's rights and voter registration.
Mission: Our aim is to bring together all those who regard adjustments to new conditions as more important than the veneration of precedent; 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.(from the NLG charter)
Yearly Agenda: Legal Observer, Know Your Rights, and Non-Violent Direct Action trainings, continuing anti-racism trainings and initiating a Diversity Project on campus with the support of other student groups, organizing direct action protests, and reinvigorating our radical speaker series. In addition, continuing to support jailhouse lawyers and political prisoners, bringing guest speakers to campus and, of course, social events. Check out our up-coming events on the home page and see some of our past events on our past NLG events page.