The National Lawyers Guild
at American University's
Washington College of Law
The National Lawyers Guild was founded in 1937. Its Constitution commits its members to using the legal system as
"an instrument for the protection of the people, rather than their oppression."
IN the 1930s, the American Bar Association (ABA) refused to admit Black attorneys and opposed the social reforms of the New Deal. In 1937, a group of concerned lawyers, recognizing the need for an alternative to the ABA, founded the National Lawyers Guild (NLG) as the first integrated bar association in the country, and established a policy to support the social welfare legislation of the New Deal. Today, the National Lawyers Guild continues the work for which it was founded--to use law as an effective political and social force in the service of the people--by actively opposing the drastic cutbacks in social welfare programs and by advocating the advancement of civil rights and liberties.
NLG is the only public interest bar organization whose members are active in virtually all areas of human rights and civil rights policy and practice. Members from many legal specialties find common interests and support within the Guild.
With more than 5,000 members, thousands of supporters and associates, and nearly 200 chapters, the NLG has provided legal support for people's movements for social and economic justice for over 60 years. It is the oldest and most extensive association of public interest and human rights activists working within the legal system.
The Washington College of Law chapter of the National Lawyers Guild strives to bring human rights and public interest awareness and activity to our law school community. Membership is open to anyone in the WCL Community, and joining the NLG is an opportunity to put your principles to work and support the work of others like you in our law school community, our local community, and nationwide.
"...lawyers, law students, legal workers and jailhouse lawyers...in the service of the people, to the end that human rights shall be regarded as more sacred than property interests."
-From Preamble to NLG Constitution
The National Lawyers Guild Membership network will put you in contact with public interest practitioners and activists working in virtually every movement for social change. We exist to help our members in the struggle for a more humane society.
Some of the major themes our chapter has selected to focus on during the 1998-99 school year include:
Government Policy Watch
Our chapter has focused attention to on-campus education through panel discussions, off-campus activism in national and local movements, letter writing campaigns, rallies, and road trips.
Our panel discussions have included "United States Political Prisoners: Past and Present" presented in the Fall of 1998. This program featured Frank Wilkinson, former United States political prisoner and defense attorney for both Leonard Peltier and Mumia Abu-Jamal. Professor Michael Tigar moderated the presentation, and over fifty students and faculty attended.
If you wish to learn more about the National Lawyers Guild at WCL, please contact our office via e-mail or contact one of the 1998-99 Executive Board members below:
Cathleen Caron, President
WCL Box 23L
Sarah Oppenheim, Chair of the Death Penalty Project
WCL Box 30N
Melissa Kronstain, Government Policy Watch Chair
WCL Box 28G
Karolyn Hicks, Treasurer
WCL Box 26O
Alisa Wilkens, Advisor, Active DC Guild Member and WCL alumna
back to Student Services | WCL Home