Programming & Schedule

Commemorating the Black Panther Party Major Panel at the 2016 #Law4thePeople Convention at NYU Law.

Click on the programming categories below to see the titles and descriptions of major panels, workshops, and CLEs at this year's #Law4thePeopleConvention! NOTE: All of this programming will take place at the UDC David A. Clarke School of Law: 4340 Connecticut Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008. (Map)

Many more meetings, receptions and social events are planned. Check them out on the FULL 5-day convention schedule!

Major Panels I: Friday, 9 AM - 10:15 AM

Immigrants Resist the Deportation Regime in the Age of Trump

In its first 60 days, the Trump administration has led nothing short of a blitzkrieg against immigrants. Having struggled for years against the deportation machine, immigrants are again resisting the current wave of enforcement. This panel will address various forms of resistance to the increased repression of immigrants under Trump. Communities are mobilizing defense committees, building rapid response networks, creating sanctuary spaces, and engaging in direct action. Advocates are also engaging in legal strategies designed to stress the deportation machine to its breaking point.

Speakers: Carlos Garcia, Executive Director of the Puente Human Rights Movement in Phoenix, Arizona; Adelina Nicholls, Executive Director of the Georgia Latino Association of Human Rights; Laura Rivera, Law Fellow, Southern Poverty Law Center, Immigrants Rights Project; Salvador Sarmiento, National Campaign Coordinator for the National Day Laborer Organizing Network; Paromita Shah, Associate Director, National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild; Azadeh Shahshahani, Legal and Advocacy Director, Project South

NLG Defends Political Prisoners: Lawyers and Clients Tell Their Stories

The NLG has a long history of defending political prisoners. This year, NLG attorneys and the former political prisoners they've defended will discuss their process and experiences: their legal defenses, the relationship to campaigns and the relationship with defendants and movements. They will also discuss current work and the importance of NLG members to join and continue this tradition.

Speakers: Jan Susler -  NLG lawyer for Puerto Rican political prisoners including Oscar Lopez Rivera, co-recipient of 2017 Debra Evenson Venceremos Award, recipient of 2013 Law for the People Award; Oscar Lopez Rivera, former Puerto Rican political prisoner served more than 35 years in prison, recipient of 2017 Arthur Kinoy award; Soffiyah Elijah, NLG attorney for SF8 and many other political prisoners and 2016 Law for the People Award recipient; Robert Boyle, NLG attorney for Dhoruba Bin Wahad and current political prisoner Herman Bell among many others. Moira Cohen NLG attorney for Seth Hayes.

Ending Incarceration of Women and Girls

The National Council works to end incarceration of women and girls from a framework of human justice. We do this from three pillars of legislation, litigation and grassroots organizing and mobilizing. We believe that the NLG members work from a similar framework, focused on human justice, and that working collectively we can increase outcomes of this work, while increasing the expertise and inclusion of the ideas and work of the women and girls most affected. Our panel will consist of members of the Council, including a currently incarcerated woman, formerly incarcerated women who are policy experts, and a representative from our Youth Policy Division.

Major Panels II: Saturday, 9 AM - 10:15 AM

Protecting Human Rights of Migrants and Refugees in the Trump Era

Right wing movements, especially in the US seek to place the blame for economic ills on immigrants and refugees, yet at the same time it is neo liberal policies, war, climate change etc. which force people to leave their homes and migrate. This panel will bring together speakers from the NLG, the Canadian association of Labor Lawyers (CALL)and the Association of Labor Lawyers of Latin America (ALAL) to discuss the current legal and political barriers migrants face in the Western Hemisphere and how to protect their human rights. A speaker from IADL's Legal Center in Lesbos which provides service to Syrian Refugees will join the panel.

Moderator: Lucy Rodriguez;  Speakers: (ALAL) Labor Lawyer Cuba, Guillermo Ferriol; (CALL) Labor/Immigrant rights lawyer Sibel Ataogul; (NLG) Natasha Ora Bannan;  (IADL, Lesbos Legal Center) Carlos Orjuela

Syria & US Policy in Southwest Asia / North Africa

This panel will feature one of most prominent scholars and analysts on the crisis in Syria and the larger Middle East Region. We will explore questions such as: What is the state of the conflict in Syria? What has to be done to work towards an end to the conflict and uphold human rights? What is the status of US policies in Syria and the region?

Speaker Bassam Haddad, non-lawyer, Syrian American, Academic and Co-Editor of Jadaliyya. Discussant: Suzanne Adely, Arab American, IC Co-Chair Discussant: Benjamin Douglas, MENA Co-Chair, DC-NLG

Muslim in America

Our panel will explore recent ways in which Muslims have struggled to safeguard their rights against government surveillance, oppressive legislation/EOs, and bias-based attacks, and the panelists will provide guidance for legal activists on how to combat these unrelenting assaults. For decades, Muslims have struggled against police harassment and bias-based attacks as Islamophobia has been institutionalized effectively sanctioning and leading to the dehumanization and criminalization of Muslims. Thus, understanding the manifestations of Islamophobia is important for legal activists in understanding the legal battles facing this community.

Speakers: Dr. Maha Hilal, organizer with the DC Justice for Muslims Coalition and Post-Doctoral Fellow at Tulane University's Traumatology Institute; Ramzi Kassem, Associate Professor of Law at the City University of New York and Creating Law Enforcement Accountability & Responsibility (CLEAR) project supervisor; Glenn Katon, Civil Rights Attorney, previously Legal Director of Muslim Advocates and Senior Attorney at ACLU of Florida.

Workshops I: Friday, 2 PM- 3 PM

Building the Guild from Inside Out: NLG Organizing, History, and Structure

Since the election of Trump, Guild membership has increased substantially with people renewing or joining for the first time. This panel can orient members who want to get a "big picture" understanding of the NLG, and to get tips for organizing their local chapter or committees. We want the space for members to see the links and collaborations between the different parts of the NLG, which often work independently. Participants will get practical tools to help them grow their NLG chapter/committee, including membership and student outreach, press and media advice, event planning (regionals) and starting up new initiatives with fellow members.

Speakers will feature NLG National Office staff members, board members, and long-time members across student, legal worker, and attorney membership categories.

In Defense of Organizing: Government Retaliation Against Social Movements

Organizers and movement lawyers come together to discuss new and leading challenges for defending organizing in this political moment and discuss defense strategies. The Trump Administration is using surveillance tools, databases and other technology to track dissenters and activists, using tools, infrastructure, and legal decisions from past presidencies. One This panel explores key threats and solutions from organizers and lawyers to address state attacks.

Speakers: Noor Mir, Disrupt J20 and Amnesty International organizer; Malkia Cyril, Center for Media Justice executive director; Jacinta Gonzalez, Mijente Field Director organizer; Joey Mogul, People’s Law Office lawyer.

SNCC Freedom Fighters in the Nation's Capital: Civil Rights to DC Rights

The Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) was founded 57 years ago, & led voter registration & civil rights organizing in the South. Later many SNCC veterans came to Washington, DC to lead community organizing & black business development & run for office. (they Mayor Marion Barry, Ivanhoe Donaldson, Dory Ladner, councilman Frank Smith etc). This workshop will feature SNCC veterans discussing the history and legacy of SNCC; they will link the civil rights struggles of the 1960s to the ongoing & current struggle for voting rights and Statehood for DC. DC continues to be controlled by Congress, with review of budget & laws.

Speakers: Former DC Councilman Frank Smith, SNCC Veteran; Dory Ladner, representative of Black Law organizations; DC Statehood activist Anise Jenkins.

Criminal Defense Work as Impact Litigation for Reproductive Justice

Impact litigation can be class actions and other broad reform fights, or it can be a single criminal defense case at trial or appeal. Criminal defense for pregnancy-related crimes is needed now more than ever, not just around arrests for abortion, but also for being pregnant, giving birth and having used a controlled substance, experiencing a pregnancy loss, improper disposal of fetal remains, and refusing cesarean surgery. The workshop will share strategies and resources for making change when facing prosecutions for alleged drug use during pregnancy, for attempting abortion outside a medical setting, and related issues.

Speakers: Nancy Rosenbloom, Amber Khan, Jennifer Johnson

Organizing 101 for Legal Professionals and Law Students

This workshop will highlight ways that legal workers can bring community organizing into their day-to-day practice, from engaging elected officials to mobilizing clients in petitioning local government for policy changes. The workshop will cover: the grassroots team model, the basics of 1-on-1 meetings and group organizing meetings, making an effective "ask" and training others on how to do it, putting together events like rallies, setting and meeting incremental goals, and strategies for engaging elected officials.

Speakers: Ihaab Syed (current UCLA law student; former Bernie 2016 Field Organizer & Regional Field Director); Linh Nguyen (current Political Director for John Wisniewski for NJ Governor; during 2016 election cycle: Special Projects for Bernie 2016 National Political & Constituency Team, Millennial Digital Coalitions for Hillary for America, and Outreach for Purpose Campaigns LLC); Theresa Schaffer (current AFT organizer; current senior advisor to For More Perfect Union; former Bernie 2016 Field Organizer, Campus Organizer, and Regional Field Director; woman and first-generation American); Minh Nguyen (current Wellness Coordinator at Houston Cardiac Association, former RESULTS Presidential Election and Advocacy Fellow, former Bernie 2016 Field Organizer & Regional Field Director; first-generation Asian American)

Workshops II: Saturday, 2:30 - 3:30 PM

Doing Your First Protest Case

This workshop will focus on how to organize your files, your discovery, and your motions. We will talk about the common problems of all cases but will concentrate on political cases. Then we will talk about some basic rules of opening statements, cross-examining police officers, and closing arguments.

Speakers: Criminal defense attorneys Daniel Mayfield, Lisa McCamey, Jacqueline Goodman, Walter Riley, and Bruce Nestor

A Sanctuary Continent: Peoples Tribunals and Migrant Rights in the Americas

This panel will explore grassroots responses to neoliberal policies such as the Merida Initiative that are destabilizing the Mesoamerican region and the U.S. through the militarization of borders, securitization, and the criminalization of migrants. Our responses focus on the need to lay the basis for a Sanctuary Continent. Focus will be on lessons drawn from transnational advocacy supported by the NLG such as delegations, tribunals of conscience, and truth and reconciliation processes in response to the cases of the Ayotzinapa (2014) and San Fernando (2010) massacres, which targeted the region’s poorest migrant and indigenous communities.

Speakers: Eleni Hernandez, Alicia Ojeda, Antonio Tizapa, Waleska Cabrera, James Smith

Dismantling the Private Prison Industry

We would like to present a panel of four individuals who are active in the fight against the privatization of incarceration in the United States. Two of our panelists will be attorneys and two will be organizers. Together, panelists will present the current facts and trends in privatization, the dangers inherent in privately operated facilities, and the strategies they and others have used to resist privatization. We will emphasize the particular impact that privatization has had in immigration detention, where two-thirds of the adults and juveniles in federal custody are held in privately operated facilities.

Speakers: Azadeh Shahshahani, Jamie Trenkle, Carl Takei, and Kyleen Burke (Moderator)

Our Storied Past: A Peek into the History of the NLG

This workshop will borrow a presentation/storytelling style called PechaKucha in which 20 slides are shown for 20 seconds each (6 minutes and 40 seconds in total). This concise and fast-paced format will provide an interesting alternative to the traditional workshop or panel, in honor of the 80th anniversary.

Speakers: Karen Jo Koonan, James Bell, Bill Goodman, Wade Rosenthal, and Pooja Gehi 

Limits of Executive Power: John Yoo, Torture and President Trump

John Yoo championed the "unitary executive", a theory of expansive presidential power where he wrote "The centralization of authority in the president alone is particularly crucial in matters of national defense, war and foreign policy." Yoo authored the torture memos but within 2 weeks after Trump was elected Yoo wrote an op-ed in the NYTimes entitled "Executive Power Run Amok". This workshop will examine the limits of executive power and analyze the Muslim Ban and Trump's likely torture plans in light of those limits.

Speakers: Marjorie Cohn, Jeanne Mirer, Rosemary Esparza

Workshops III: Sunday, 9:30 AM - 10:30 AM

NLG Legal Observer “Train the Trainer” Workshop

With massive protest growth from BLM to the anti-Trump struggles, the demand for mass defense support has mushroomed. Legal observers are badly needed across the country, including in areas with less NLG capacity. The NLG also needs to be better at helping communities build their legal support capacity. This workshop will show experienced LOs how to train new LOs, with an emphasis on the LO program being in active solidarity with targeted communities. Trainees will learn how to present the LO curriculum, and trainees will learn develop workshop facilitation skills and strategies, including privilege/oppression awareness and multimedia use.

Speakers: Delores Ritzman, NLG Central PA member; King Downing, NLG Mass Defense Director; Shanna Merola, Detroit/Michigan NLG Legal Observer Coordinator.

From Advocacy to Political Practice: Worker-Centered Solidarity

As dissent increases, along with this administration's attempts to silence it, it is essential that our movements for economic, racial and immigrant justice find protected spaces for political expression and workplace democracy. Reclaiming the National Labor Relation Act's expansive language to protect workers' political practice can help us frame issues as workers' issues, as well as uncover shared interests at the intersections of social justice, which can link our movements more explicitly.

Speakers: Tamara Lee, Professor of Labor Studies and Employment Relations at Rutgers University; Kate Griffith, Professor of Industrial and Labor Relations, Cornell University; Cassady Fendlay, Communications Director of the National Women's March; Terri Nilliasca, Assistant General Counsel, District 37 union and former union organizer; Natasha Lycia Ora Bannan, President, NLG and Associate Counsel, LatinoJustice PRLDEF.

Redefining Local Resistance to the Mass Deportation State

The idea of “sanctuary" is fast being developed as a political tool to defy and resist Trump’s anti-immigrant, hateful policies. But what does it mean for a city to be deemed a "sanctuary city"? Who decides what is sanctuary and who sanctuary is trying to protect? How can cities claim to be a sanctuary if black and brown residents still experience disproportionate incarceration and are routinely killed by police? This panel will discuss ways in which “sanctuary” spaces can and should be more intersectional, specifically by incorporating a racial justice, criminal justice and LGBTQ lens.

Speakers: Sapna Pandya, E.D., Many Languages One Voice; Carl Lipscombe, Political Director, Black Alliance for Just Immigration; Tania Unzueta, Mijente organizer; Mony Ruiz-Velasco, PASO and immigration attorney.

Ensuring Fairness: Access to Counsel in Parole Revocation Proceedings

This workshop will explore how parole revocation funnels people into Illinois’ overcrowded prisons, and how to use class action litigation to secure counsel for parolees.

Topics: Securing a right to counsel for people on parole (Morrissey v. Brewer and Gagnon v. Scarpelli); Training law students to address mass imprisonment and unequal access to justice; The importance of promoting the voice of the people in change efforts; Limitations of litigation in achieving substantive change, and working with clients/students to envision a system of justice not hamstrung by court action; How systemic parole reform can be achieved in other states.

Speakers: Sheila Bedi, MacArthur Justice Center; Alan Mills, Uptown People's Law Center; MacArthur law student who worked on case (TBD, based on their summer schedule).

Decolonization and Sovereignty Under International Human Rights Law

How are Decolonization and Sovereignty defined under International Human Rights instruments? How can social justice movements use International Human Rights law within the US legal framework? This panel explores Decolonization and Sovereignty under International Human Rights frameworks including the ICCPR, ESCR and UNDRIP, through a series of case-studies focusing on Standing Rock, Puerto Rico, the Philippines and Palestine.

Speakers: Andy Reid; Bernadette Ellorin; Marma Urbano; Andrea Carmen; Walter Echo-Hawk; Godreau Aubert;  Fatin Jarrara. Moderator(s): Natali Segovia, Jackie Mariano & /or Jordan Winquist

Workshops IV: Sunday, 1 PM - 2 PM (JUST ADDED: HOT TOPICS!)

Rethinking the Law School Classroom

This workshop will focus on the persistent and traditional nature of law school classrooms which do not reflect the learning capabilities of ALL students.The traditional lecture format does not provide access for all learning styles and impacts how students master doctrinal classes. Both faculties and student bodies are largely white and able bodied. This fact does not reflect the every increasing diversity (seen and unseen) that is our reality. This workshop seeks to provide alternate ways of teaching in the law school classroom with strategies for inclusion and learning outside of case books.

Strategic Uses of Criminal Cases to Strengthen Movements

This panel will discuss ways that criminal cases across the country are being used—and could be used—to strengthen movements. The state uses criminal charges and the threat of prison to dismantle and destroy our struggles. As movement lawyers, law students, and legal workers, we can be in solidarity with struggles and communities by viewing criminal defense as a strategic encounter with the state that can advance political organizing. The panelists include lawyers and legal workers involved in political and legal defense for activists in some of the most prominent and important political struggles across the country.

Speakers: Maggie Ellinger-Locke, attorney and DC NLG Chapter board member and DC NLG Mass Defense Chair; Maryam Khajavi, radical lawyer and former AETA defendant; Amal Mimish, civil rights legal worker for J20 inauguration protests; Jude Ortiz: anarchist legal support organizer, founding member of Tilted Scales Collective, and NLG Mass Defense Committee Chair; Nathan Sheard, co-founder of Black Movement-Law Project and founding member of Just Info, a 24-hour hotline providing no-cost legal information in New York City.

Let Haiti Live: Fraudulent Elections, Imprisonment, Deportations

On February 7, 2017, Jovenal Moise, was named President of Haiti after fraudulent elections. He was imposed by a rigged electoral system and brutal repression by the UN-trained and supervised Haitian police. Worsening conditions have produced a Haitian refugee crisis. Thousands are stranded in Tijuana, trying to get into the US, while others have been detained on the US. side. Within Haiti, the prisons are filled with detainees kept in jail without due process, dying of malnutrition and preventable illnesses. We will highlight the need for international solidarity for both the popular movement in Haiti and Haitian refugees.

Speakers: Pierre Labossiere, co-founder of the Haiti Action Committee and Haiti Emergency Relief Fund board member; Margaret Prescod, host of KPFK’s Sojourner Truth program and member of Women of Color in the Global Women’s Strike; Michelle Karshan, New York City radio host/journalist (WNWK & WBAI) and former press secretary for President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. Moderator: Walter Riley, Chair of the Haiti Emergency Relief Fund.

*JUST ADDED!* Hot Topic Workshop: Curing Hepatitis C in PA Prisons

Hep C is largest infectious disease in America, and effects 20% of the prison population. In the general population 1 in 7 African American men in are Hep C positive. In 2014 a cure for Hep C was approved by the FDA. Currently, the PA DOC is treating only .004%  of those testing positive for active Hep C. This means that thousands of prisoners are at risk. It is especially important as the cost for the treatment drops with generics and negotiated bulk purchasing that the tools to demand treatment be put directly into the hands of prisoners. This workshop seeks to instruct and engage lawyers and legal workers in the task of providing direct legal support to those currently incarcerated so that they can demand adequate medical treatment for this curable and deadly infectious disease. A preliminary injunction motion has been won in Abu-Jamal vs. Kerestes and the class action Salvatore Chimenti et al. v. Pennsylvania Department of Corrections et al.*, No. 15-cv-3333 (E.D. Pa.)  has been deemed to have valid legal claims and will proceed.

Speakers:  Mumia Abu-Jamal (via phone) plaintiff in Abu-Jamal v Kerestes; Bret Grote, Esq. (Abolitionist Law Center); Bob Boyle, Esq. a lawyer on Abu-Jamal v. Kerestes  Joesph Harris, MD doctor on the case. Annette Gaudino, HCV Project Co-Director Treatment Action Group; Noelle Hanrahan, P.I. Moderator, 2016 NLG Legal Worker of the Year.

*JUST ADDED!* Hot Topic Workshop: Confronting Fascism: Defending Anti-Fascism

White supremacist fascist organizing is growing. Recent events in Berkeley, Oregon and Kentucky, have led to violent conflicts and raise important questions about how the NLG will confront the rising tides of fascist mobilization and defend those organizing community and movement self-defense. How can the NLG articulate the difference between the unlawful actions of fascists with a dangerous agenda of profound violence and state backing versus the defensive actions of anti-fascists, how can we draw a meaningful distinction between protecting free speech and defending those who confront hate against deadly violence and repression.

Speakers: Tur-ha Ak, legal worker, Anti Police Terror Project • Judith Mirkinson, NLG legal worker • John Viola, NLG-SF attorney and board member • Sekou Odinga or Dequi Kioni-Sadiki, former political prisoners and anti prison/antifascist advocates • Moderator: Sara Kershnar, NLG-SF legal worker and board member

Half and Full Day CLEs

NOTE: Many workshops and major panels also have CLE credit pending. The CLEs below carry fees in addition to general convention registration. Online CLE registration links coming soon!

Fighting Enforcement and Keeping Families Together in the Trump Era
Sponsored by the National Immigration Project
Wednesday, 8:30 AM - 5 PM

Learn about how to best defend your clients and resist Trump Administration tactics!

  • Topics include:
  • Defending noncitizens with criminal records
  • Raids and motions to suppress
  • Suing the government for violating your clients’ rights - damages/remedies
  • Strategies to challenge your client’s ongoing detention
  • Challenging reinstatement of removal
  • Movement lawyering

Police Misconduct in the Age of Trump
Sponsored by the National Police Accountability Project

Thursday, 9 AM - 5 PM

Speakers: Sarah Fech-Baughman; Jonathan Feinberg; Paul W. Hughes; Carl Messineo; Javier Maldonado; David Milton, Carol Sobel, Mara Verheyden-Hilliard; Julia Yoo.  Moderator: Terry Gilbert. Register at or at the door.


  • First Amendment Rights of protesters
  • Video and digitized evidence in mass defense cases
  • FTCA and Bivens actions against federal immigration agencies
  • Law enforcement misconduct against people with diabetes
  • Primer on appellate litigation

The Use of International Law to Confront the Trump Agenda
Sponsored by the NLG International Committee

Thursday, 1 PM - 5 PM

In this incisive and informative program, active practitioners will present on the use of international law in domestic courts, as well as recourse to international forums, to defend human rights under attack in the US. From resisting the “Muslim Ban” to defending undocumented people to advancing the rights to work and health care, international law provides tools that can help advance our cases in domestic courts. This CLE will include active examples of the use of international law in relevant contexts to defend human rights in the US.

Schedule of EVents