Alameda County
Bar Association

Opportunity to Represent Protesters 

Want to use your legal skills to get involved with the #BlackLivesMatter Protests?

The National Lawyers’ Guild would love support in the areas listed below. The most immediate need is for strong and aligned criminal defense attorneys.

However, in the next few weeks they anticipate more needs around civil rights violations and eventually FBI investigations and grand juries. Here are some of the areas of work that they will need:

1) Advocacy and strategic impact litigation. Help gathering information and witnesses for political advocacy and potentially building cases for strategic civil litigation that is aimed at protecting the right to protest. In the past, this has been focused on mass use of force and mass false arrests. In this moment, it might be a mass false arrest case, challenging racial profiling or disparity in those kept in jail versus those released, or seeking to ban the use of chemical agents and dangerous munitions in crowds. 

2) Individual civil litigation. Cases arise where people are physically injured by police in demonstrations and have medical expenses in addition to damages for violations of their civil rights. These cases are sometimes referred to experienced civil rights attorneys by the NLG with the request that lawyers give a small percentage of the attorney’s fees back to the Guild as a donation if there is a recovery. Help is needed with screening these potential cases and an advocacy plan for those that are not referable.

3) Local or Federal investigation/prosecution and Grand Jury inquiries. It is not uncommon for the State to react to such widespread uprising in the streets with investigations that result in law enforcement contacting and coming to the homes of people they determine to have been involved. Individuals who are contacted need to know their rights and we need attorneys available to quickly consult with those contacted, contact FBI or other law enforcement, and be a buffer so people aren’t coerced to talk. The NLG supports those refusing to talk to the FBI and resisting grand jury subpoenas and proceedings. 

If you have not already done so, please complete a survey to share your area of legal practice and the support that you are willing and able to provide. They also ask for personal and/or professional references to protect those we defend and the NLG. 

Please also read the statement below to ensure that the NLG-SF is a good fit for you and that your commitments align with those of the NLG. 

In the meantime, please consider contributing to the NLG to increase their immediate ability to provide legal support and defense. 

National Lawyers Guild Statement of Commitment

The National Lawyers Guild is a diverse group of legal workers, activists, and lawyers whose values coalesce around a central principle: Human Rights over Property Rights. In the wake of yet another murder of a Black man at the hands of police and the powerful uprising that is following, there have been a lot of attorneys reaching out offer their support. We appreciate you and your willingness to help, and we will engage with those offers to the extent possible and practical. 

Some of you have indicated that you will only represent “peaceful protesters,” which poses a philosophical problem for the Guild.  

The National Lawyers Guild is 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. When people rise up against a society that has excluded 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. 

Please consider whether you can provide legal support in this moment without limitation. If you can, we encourage you to fill out our survey and engage with us.