By Elena Cohen, NLG President
It is with great pleasure that I write my first column as National Lawyers Guild President. Throughout my years as an activist, NLG member, President of the New York City Chapter, and national Board member, I have witnessed the many ways in which the Guild is an invaluable network of individuals, committed to using the law in our collective struggle for liberation.
As I begin my time as the President, I am reminded of the pioneers among us that inspire me with hope—that even in this moment, beset by constant attacks on those most vulnerable, there are pathways of resistance being made visible by NLG members that enable greater cooperation in our shared fight.
In early November, nearly 600 Guild members, activists, organizers, and friends converged in Portland, OR for the 2018 #Law4thePeople convention. I was reminded at this Convention, as I am at so many Guild events, of how intense and inspirational the work of Guild attorneys, legal workers, and law students is. Our keynote address by Seattle Councilwoman Kshama Sawant, the Smash the Patriarchy Luncheon discussion with past Presidents and myself, the Reproductive Justice Cocktail Hour with an address by Andrea Ritchie, our plenary discussion on how Guild members fight fascism on so many fronts, among many other panels and meetings, all made so clear how strong the Guild’s commitment is to building solidarity and networks, in our fights to expose and end oppression.
In the coming months, I know that the Guild will continue to be on the front lines of our struggles—struggles not just to survive, but to win. Just recently, in response to the needs of the Central American Migrant Exodus at the U.S.- Mexico border, our collective response to help protect refugees violence and political crisis was swift. For this, and for the Guild’s work for the past 80 plus years, we should be proud. But our work is far from over.
Our work needs you. We need your knowledge, your skills, your passions, your anger- and your participation and financial support. Together, we can build the Guild and our progressive legal community. It is necessary- now more than ever. ■
Above: Outgoing NLG President Natasha Lycia Ora Bannan hands over the Presidential baton to Elena Cohen at the first plenary during the 2018 #Law4thePeople Convention. (Photo: Curtis McGuire)