Mission & Role
For over 80 years, the National Lawyers Guild has served as the legal arm of movements leading the fight for meaningful social change in the United States. As a progressive and leftist legal organization, the NLG has represented and defended activists in the courtrooms and on the streets.
The San Francisco / Bay Area Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild (NLGSF) has met this need for the past 50 years. Our chapter has played a significant role in supporting the resurgence of social movements demanding racial and economic justice in the Bay Area. With a membership of over 700 progressive law students, legal workers, jailhouse lawyers and attorneys, NLGSF is the largest NLG chapter in the country.
All of the work of the NLG-SFBA is done in partnership with our movement partners, in response to their needs and as the legal arm of radical movements for social justice. Our work evolves to remain relevant to today’s movements and to attract up and coming movement lawyers and legal workers. We value and center the experiences and leadership of those most impacted, both inside and outside of the organization. We strive to operate in ways and do work that invests their participation in and partnership with the NLG-SFBA.
Orientation for NLG-SFBA Chapter
The NLG is a diverse group of legal workers, activists, and lawyers whose values coalesce around a central principle: Human Rights over Property Rights. We are not an organization that condemns or judges tactics of protestors. We do not equate things like property destruction with “violence” as we recognize that the history of land and property ownership have themselves been acts of violence, existing through layers of slavery and unpaid labor on stolen and colonized lands. We also support the right to resist and right to self- and community defense. When people rise up against a society that has excluded, oppressed, brutalized and exploited them in service of property and profit, we do not condemn their unwillingness to abide by the rules protecting both. We believe that their responses can become a collective act of self-defense in response to historic, systemic and institutionalized aggression.
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 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.