NLG | About Us


The National Lawyers Guild (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. The Guild is the oldest and most extensive network of public interest and human rights activists working within the legal system.

Since its inception, NLG-SFBA has been dedicated to mass defense and protecting the rights of demonstrators as the legal arm of the movement. The San Francisco office of the National Lawyers Guild opened its doors in 1969, in the midst of the Third World Liberation Front (TWLF) student strikes at San Francisco State College (now named San Francisco State University). The office opened with the goal of providing legal support to students and solidarity activists on the frontlines of social movements by helping demonstrators navigate and understand the legal system they are up against.

Throughout our history, NLG-SFBA has provided mass defense to anti-war demonstrators protesting the draft for the Vietnam War, the Black Panther Party, civil rights movement demonstrators, TWLF student strikes for ethnic studies and other anti-imperialist movements, anti-Apartheid activists, the Palestinian movement, environmental justice, anti-fascist and homeless activists, and many more.

As one of the earliest and largest Guild chapters in the country, NLG-SFBA has always been a multi-issue, multi-constituent organization. NLG-SFBA membership currently comprises movement and jailhouse lawyers, legal workers and paralegals, community organizers, activists, volunteers, and law and other students working for prison and police abolition, migrant justice, housing justice, labor rights, and environmental justice, among other struggles. To this day, NLG-SFBA is committed to uplifting human rights over property rights, serving communities in the San Francisco Bay Area and beyond through our projects, programs, and committees.