Candidate Statement for NLG President: Elena Cohen

No real social change has ever been brought about without a revolution-Revolution is but thought carried into action. Every effort for progress, for enlightenment, for science, for religious, political, and economic liberty, emanates from the minority, and not from the mass. – Emma Goldman

Elena Cohen with co-counsel and fellow NLG-NYC members Gideon Oliver and Michael Decker speaking at a June press conference about their LRAD litigation.

It is with deep admiration, enthusiasm, and sense of responsibility that I announce my candidacy for President of the National Lawyers Guild.

For those who do not know me, I have strong record of dedication and committed leadership in and out of the Guild. I am currently an Executive Vice-President of the Guild, and served as the President of the New York City Chapter for two terms. I am currently a co-chair of our NYC Mass Defense Committee, and a proud member of the Guild’s Animal Rights Activism Committee, Queer Caucus and International Committee. Some of my achievements in Guild leadership include navigating a multi-million dollar bequest to the Guild, re-starting the NYC Chapter’s annual delegations to Cuba, and helping to plan last year’s convention in NYC.

Outside of the Guild, I am a student, attorney, professor, and activist. As a professor, I am dedicated to teaching at underserved universities, and I currently instruct classes on gender and the law and civil rights in the City University of New York system. As an attorney, I center social justice in my everyday work, and have represented hundreds of people arrested for engaging in protest activities, and do estate work for the families of people who die as a result of police or correctional officer misconduct. As a student, I am a doctoral candidate, writing my dissertation on sexuality in protest. I also recently filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the City of New York following the NYPD’s use of the Long Range Acoustic Device (“LRAD”) sound weapon against protesters and journalists. You can read more about my work experience and publications on the NLG Scholars page (

It has been a pleasure to be part of the NLG as we have grown to recognize and take action against oppression, internal and external. We are at a momentous and exciting time, in which our very long history of supporting radical movements becomes ever more inclusive. My work has shown that I am tirelessly dedicated to the Guild, and that I have a solid record of putting in the time, energy, and care that building the Guild requires. It would be an honor to continue working for and with you all in our truly exceptional organization.


In solidarity and struggle,