Friends of the Guild,
It is time again for our annual membership renewal drive, and we are excited to update you on the Guild’s work. In the face of federal policies that oppress the most vulnerable, chip away human rights, tear apart families, offend human dignity, and threaten the livability of our climate, our work is important as ever. As a member, you fund the Guild’s vital programs and stand with the ranks of people’s lawyers and activists on the front lines of resistance. Below is a sampling of what we have accomplished this past year.
- We offered legal support and provided legal observers at the Tijuana border for both Refugee Caravans, in coalition with immigrants’ rights organizations. Our attorneys provided pro bono legal counseling to refugees, as well as assistance in preparing for their asylum interviews. We trained nearly 150 legal observers to travel to the border and helped to coordinate volunteers to carpool and travel together. The LA chapter continues to coordinate and send down volunteers to the border.
- We provided legal observers for more actions and events than ever—serving to deter and document violations of protesters’ civil rights. We now have a Legal Observer Coordinator and Committee to help ensure that we can respond to more requests. Some weeks, we’re at actions nearly every day!
- We provided post-arrest legal support and representation for numerous actions—including mass arrests at an Occupy ICE encampment, a civil disobedience action protesting Jeff Sessions, and a 66-person road take-over blocking access to the Long Beach Port by a coalition of labor and immigrants’ rights groups protesting termination of TPS status. We also helped secure protest permits and provided legal assistance for political actions throughout the region.
- We provided know-your-rights trainings to multiple groups throughout the region. This is especially popular for activists engaging in civil disobedience to know their rights and what to expect.
- Our attorneys have engaged in crucial legal battles. Guild attorneys sued Adelanto Detention for inhumane conditions on behalf of detained men who led a hunger strike to protest their treatment and captivity. Guild attorneys led the courtroom fight in Orange County to combat criminalization of homelessness in the riverbed. Guild attorneys sued local jails and the Sherriff on behalf of people who were mistreated in their facilities. Guild attorneys are on the legal team representing a Black Lives Matter Los Angeles co-founder in her criminal case relating to free speech at police commission hearings. These are just a few of the weighty civil rights cases by our members.
- We continue to offer two monthly homeless legal clinics, in partnership with LA-CAN and Venice Justice Committee, in Venice and Skid Row. Volunteers conduct clinic intakes, and lawyers provide free representation to fight infractions related to criminalization of homelessness. Attorneys routinely get cases dismissed in the interest of justice and otherwise obtain favorable outcomes for clients.
- We participated in several coalitions to oppose ICE and disentangle immigration enforcement from local government. With our coalition partners, we support local sanctuary ordinances—including ongoing efforts to pass a strong, enforceable sanctuary ordinance in the City of L.A.
- Our Worker’s Rights Committee published a Know Your Rights in the Workplace booklet in English and Spanish, providing an overview of legal protections for workers in California. The booklets provide a rights primer for individual workers and can be used as an organizing tool by our labor allies.
- Our newly formed Black and People of African Descent Task Force is dedicated to building the Chapter’s capacity to meet the increased demand for Black legal observers, conducting outreach and know-your-rights programming in the Black community, and providing legal support throughout LA.
- Our immigration, workers’ rights and housing committees hold regular educational panels on topics of interest to attorneys and advocates in these practice areas, as well as those from impacted communities. The committees also host regular (and fun!) mixers for members with similar interests to meet one another and strategize future collaborations.
- We continue our efforts to legalize street vending and promote street vendor rights, in collaboration with community partners. We have deployed legal observers to document law enforcement confiscations of street vendor property, and we recently hosted a legal clinic to interview vendors about rights violations. Guild attorneys are currently working with street vendors to end property confiscations and vindicate their rights.
- This summer, we hosted our largest Law Student Activist Retreat yet, with approximately 75 students representing every law school in LA and OC. Students participated in panel discussions about activism and peoples’ lawyering. We also hosted more than a hundred students this summer at our annual Summer Law Student Mixer, providing a space for students to meet Guild members and attorneys.
- We are in the process of launching a formal year-long Guild mentorship program, in response to popular demand by law student members. So far, more than 80 students and other new Guild members have signed up to be paired with a more experienced Guild mentor! The mentor pairings will be announced soon. We hope this will foster meaningful friendships and collaborations, as well as providing advice and guidance for newer Guild members.
- We provided student scholarships to help 17 students attend the National Lawyers Guild’s annual convention (held in Portland this year at the end of October).
- We hosted many Continuing Legal Education (CLE) sessions. For example, one of our CLE’s covered criminalization of homelessness, including ways to fight the systematic punishment of people living on the street and violations intended to drive these individuals from rapidly gentrifying neighborhoods.
- We sponsored community forums, teach-ins, and trainings for the progressive community. For example, one such forum discussed important international litigation and human rights abuses in Gaza.
- We have renewed a close partnership with People’s College of Law (PCL). Established in the 1970s as the “Guild Law School,” the collectively-owned law school is founded on principles of people’s lawyering. PCL generously donated office space to us this year, and in return we work to promote PCL to our membership, recruiting students and volunteer professors.
- We continue to provide a progressive voice in the media through our weekly public affairs radio show on Pacifica Radio, The Lawyers Guild Show. It airs Wednesday afternoons at 2pm on KPFK 90.7.
We have accomplished a lot in the past year, but there is so much more to do. We welcome your leadership and active participation in the chapter. Please join our ranks and help us create a more just world. It is an honor to work by your side for justice.
Yours in Solidarity,
Kath Rogers, Executive Director
Maria Hall & Gilbert Saucedo, Co-Presidents