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National Lawyers Guild

Legal Observer Program

The National Lawyers Guild is a leading organizer of Legal Observer (LO) support for protests.

Posted August 7, 2020

Background & Context

The National Lawyers Guild Legal Observer® program was established in 1968 in New York City in response to protests at Columbia University and city-wide antiwar and civil rights demonstrations. That same year, Guild students organized for the defense of people swept up in mass arrests at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago.

Work & Deliverables

Lawyers are asked to volunteer as LOs or to volunteer as lawyers on record for LO programs.

LOs attend demonstrations, protests, and other gatherings and observe/document law enforcement conduct. This information can become important for legal defense of people who are arrested and as evidence of official misconduct. Moreover, the presence of LOs may serve as a deterrent to unconstitutional behavior by law enforcement during a demonstration.

LOs are trained and directed by Guild attorneys, who often have established attorney-client relationships with activist organizations, or are in litigation challenging police tactics at mass assemblies. Individual attorneys will be connected with opportunities to support protests and demonstrations.

This project is complete!

This project has been completed thanks to the efforts of our volunteers.

Visit the Project Directory to check out other projects that still need your help!

Additional Information

  • Time Commitment: 1-5 hours
  • Training Provided: Yes
  • Additional Training Details: Training information will be given to volunteers upon submitting a request to volunteer.
  • Site-Preference: Remote
  • Open to Law Students: No
  • Bar License(s) required: Any Bar License
  • Required Languages: None
  • Mentoring Provided: Yes
  • Supervision Provided: Yes
National Lawyers Guild

The National Lawyers Guild is an association dedicated to the need for basic change in the structure of our political and economic system. We seek to unite the lawyers, law students, legal workers, and jailhouse lawyers of America in an organization which shall function as an effective political and social force in the service of the people, to the end that human rights and the rights of ecosystems shall be regarded as more sacred than property interests. 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.

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