Major Panels

Above: Longtime NLG member and past president Bill Goodman speaks about the Attica prison uprisings during a 2017 major panel on the history of the Guild. (Photo: Curtis McGuire)

Major panels (75 min) and workshops (60 min) serve as the backbone of every #Law4thePeople Convention, and each year address timely topics of movement law and organizing. See below for the 2018 major panels and workshops that will take place Friday (11/3) through Sunday (11/4) of the convention!


Major Panels I: 2:15 PM – 3:30 PM

Global Compact on Migration: Causes and Patterns of Forced Migration

In December 2018, the UN will adopt the “Global Compact for Safe, Orderly, and Regular Migration” (GCM). Within this web of migration are poor migrant workers who are forced to search for work outside of their home countries. They are often lauded as their country’s “heroes” for earning wages that keep their home economies afloat. However, policies still perpetuate keeping the Global South exploitable for cheap labor and raw resources. The panel will critique the UN’s neoliberal “migration for development” framework, and highlight the voices of grassroots migrant organizations demanding rights to livelihood free from exploitative labor.

Sponsors: NLG International Committee


  • Moderator – Jackelyn Mariano, NLG IC Co-Chair; Mission to End Modern Slavery (MEMS)
  • Monami Maulik, Global Forum on Migration; Founder of Desis Rising Up and Moving (DRUM)
  • Camilo Perez Bustillo, NLG
  • Catherine Tactaquin Executive Director of National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (NNIRR) (invited)
  • Terry Valen, International Migrants Alliance

From Dirty Wars to War on Immigrants, Black Bodies: Sanctuary in Past & Now (CLE credit pending)

This panel will delve into history of the sanctuary movement in the US as well as the recent sanctuary movement in response to mass deportations and the current administration’s hostile policies towards immigrants and people of color. Panelists will discuss the history of the National Lawyers Guild National Immigration Project work to protect people of faith and churches who were providing to sanctuary to those fleeing US-supported dictatorships in Latin America. The panel will also provide an overview of the current landscape of sanctuary work in support of immigrants and people of color, with a focus on the efforts in Oregon and the South.

Sponsored by: National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild; TUPOCC; NLG Anti-Racism Committee; NLG International Committee


  • Andrea Williams, Causa Oregon Executive Director
  • Lena Graber, Immigrant Legal Resource Center Special Projects Attorney
  • Dan Kesselbrenner, NIPNLG Executive Director
  • Azadeh Shahshahani, Project South Legal & Advocacy Director
  • Others TBA

Disaster Capitalism, Colonialism & Climate Change: Societies after Disasters (CLE credit pending)

In the face of economic collapse and increasingly frequent and forceful (un)natural disasters, cities and nations are facing the imposition of austerity regimes and the elimination of public goods, anti-democratic governance and the pillaging of local communities, especially communities of color, leading to  forced displacement and a re-population of gentrifying forces bent on reshaping societies.  Neoliberal policies green lighting disruptive infrastructure projects are causing deep harm to local ecosystems and economies while sweeping economic reforms that benefit the private sector and cut funding for public goods and services are implemented.

Sponsors: NLG International Committee, Puerto Rico Subcommittee, Environmental Justice Committee, Environmental Human Rights Committee, TUPOCC, Anti-Racism Committee, Louisiana NLG, Michigan NLG


  • Osvaldo Burgos, Puerto Rican civil rights attorney and law professor
  • Peter Hammer, Wayne State University Law School professor, Damon J. Keith Center for Civil Rights director
  • Benjamin C. Varadi, former Managing Attorney at Common Ground Relief Clinic, a free walk-in legal resource for hurricane-impacted Gulf Coast residents
  • Natasha Lycia Ora Bannan, NLG president, LatinoJustice PRLDEF Associate Counsel


Major Panels II: 1:15 PM – 2:30 PM

Facing Fascism: What’s the NLG’s Role in Defending Resistance to Fascism?

From the advance of State-based fascism to the rise of street-based white nationalism, communities and movements are in a fight to defend themselves against attacks on civil liberties, the right to resist and basic safety. The panel will examine differences and similarities between today’s and yesterday’s State repression, permission for unrestrained police use-of-force, collaboration between State and “popular” forms of fascism, and the erosion of basic protections and “due process”. Panelists will offer cases to discuss this question and the role of legal defense and offensive strategies in protecting resistance and community defense.

Sponsors: International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network, Herman Bell Defense Committee, Arab Resource and Organizing Center, Critical Resistance, Catalyst Project, Queer as Fuck, BAYAN-USA, Anti-Fascist Work Group


  • Moderator: Sara Kershnar, NLG attorney
  • Dequi Kioni Sadiki, Co-Coordinator of the Sekou Odinga Defense Committee and Co-Chair of the Malcolm X Commemoration Committee
  • Carey Lamprecht, NLGSF legal worker and Anti-Fascist Work Group
  • Jacklyn Mariano NLG International Committee Co-Chair and attorney with Gabriela- US
  • Lara Kiswani, Arab Resource and Organizing Center Executive Director
  • Malkia Cyril, Center for Media Justice Co-Founder and Executive Director

Envisioning A World Without Police or Prisons: Shaping Goals for a Movement

It is often said that prison industrial complex abolition provides a vision for shifting the way society is structured. So what does that vision entail? What does a world without policing and prisons look like? What sorts of radical transformations in existing movements would we need to get us there? What lessons have already been learned by this movement? And what work still needs to be done to support those leading the way? These are the sorts of questions our panel of radical organizers and lawyers will seek to address, and help the NLG strengthen its commitment to abolition made at the Oakland convention in 2015.

Sponsors: Mass Incarceration Committee, TUPOCC, Queer Caucus, Lewis & Clark Law School NLG,


  • Moderator: Ria Thompson-Washington, NLG Executive Vice President
  • April Goggans, organizer with Black Lives Matter DMV
  • Joey Mogul, attorney with People’s Law Office
  • Derecka Purnell, attorney with Advancement Project
  • Cory Lira, organizer with Critical Resistance Portland
  • Mohamed Shehk, Media & Communications Director with Critical Resistance

The Law as a Tool Towards Liberation in the Trump Era (CLE credit pending)

As the US experiences escalated state and corporate repression, lawyers have emerged as one bulwark against abuses of the powerful. Litigation is a necessary tool to challenge basic human rights violations, but as lawyers for the people, we must remember that the law can never produce all the social change the people seek. As lawyers, we remain complicit in a corrupt, racist, hierarchical system. Nevertheless, many celebrate us as beacons of justice, saviors of the downtrodden, and leaders of the resistance. In a culture that both lionizes and demonizes us, how do we maintain our humility and accountability to directly impacted communities?

Sponsor: TUPOCC


  • Pooja Gehi – moderator, NLG Executive Director
  • Oren Nimni – Lawyers’ Committee as a Civil Rights  fellow
  • Carl Williams – attorney, Political Research Associates
  • Gabriel Arkles, staff attorney, ACLU LGBT and HIV Project
  • Kris Hayashi – Executive Director, Transgender Law Project