The National Lawyers Guild SF Bay Area is the legal arm of the progressive movement. The organization hires staff with organizing skills and movement connections and supports member engagement with emerging needs of the movement. For more information, please visit the NLG SF website. Here are some of the organization’s members can find in the Bay Area:
Judith Mirkinson, the president of the National Lawyers Guild of San Francisco, is among the leaders of an international legal organization that works to protect human rights. She led the NLG’s Bay Area chapter and served on the International Committee. In April, she and other members of the NLG and the Haiti Action Committee went on a fact-finding trip to Haiti. Afterward, they released a report on the Lasalin Massacre and the Human Rights Crisis in Haiti.
The storied history of the National Lawyers Guild of San Francisco is marked by its commitment to legal services that are critical to the poor, marginalized, and oppressed. The Guild’s radical service concept, in which lawyers serve the poor, oppressed, and underserved, was further deepened and the organization’s client-lawyer relationship became democratic, nonhierarchical, and egalitarian. Dohrn fought for these ideals throughout her career.
Suzanne Adely, the first Arab-American president of the National Lawyers Guild of San Francisco, is a social justice advocate and co-founder of the Arab Workers Resource Center. She co-chairs the International Committee of the NLG and is a member of the IADL bureau. She has been an active member in Bay Area social movements and has written several books, including Breach of Privilege: Spying on Lawyers in the US.
The National Lawyers Guild is a nonprofit organization founded in 1947 with a mission to help lawyers fight injustice in the United States. Its members are enrolled in law schools and lawyers. In the United States, the NLG has nearly 2,500 members and 500 affiliated law students. The Guild’s social legislation committee produced a “Program of Basic Protection for the American People” at its national convention, which included proposals for full employment, rent control, and housing. The group is a founding member of the International Association of Democratic Lawyers.
‘Banquet Dinner Riot’
The ‘Banquet Dinner Riot,’ a riot at a convention in Paris, is a fascinating historical event. The event began as a banquet held at the residence of the Minister of Foreign Affairs but was later canceled due to a Government threat. National Guards were expected at the banquet, but people were enraged and began guarding the door. Eventually, an attorney, William Kunstler, burned the ticket, and the riot began.
The Taft-Hartley Act was passed in 1947. It was a sweeping law that wiped out organized labor gains over the previous 15 years. The act included a provision that required union officials to affix an affidavit declaring that they were not communists. This provision purged the labor movement of its radical leadership. In response, many NLG attorneys in major unions lost their jobs.
Legal defense of communists
During the Cold War, the National Lawyers Guild was a prominent organization that supported pro-Soviet agendas and opposed U.S. foreign policy. The Guild supported several Marxist “liberation” movements and, in the 1970s, helped to establish the Palestine Liberation Organization. They also supported the Vietcong and the African National Congress, as well as the revolutionary communist party of the Philippines and the military wing of the PRP.
Military law panel
The NLGSF Military Law Panel is a local chapter of the national organization that supports progressive resistance in the United States military by providing legal services to combat veterans and service members who have been subjected to abusive treatment. The panel is made up of lawyers, law students, and legal professionals who work with the military and have been impacted by oppressive military policies. The group also recently helped National Guard members who support Black Lives Matter.
‘Protect the Protest’
The National Lawyers Guild SF (NLG) is leading a project to provide free legal representation to people arrested for engaging in peaceful protest. The group is critical of the Trump administration, calling it a fascist regime. The NLG is building the legal support infrastructure that protesters need to defend themselves, including jail visits and legal representation. The group has also called for the dismissal of more than 200 people who have been arrested in recent weeks as a result of their activism.