Student Chapters Build Guild Presence on Campus

Traci Yoder, Student Organizer

NLG law students are active at over 100 law schools across the country. Below are some recent and ongoing student chapter projects.

Villanova University

Villanova NLG kicked off the semester with an introductory meeting hosted by Philadelphia Chapter Chair Steve Gotzler. The chapter signed up many new students at the Villanova activites fair with the help of Earl Grey tea and raspberry cream cheese cupcakes. The chapter currently has two major projects.

One, called Keep It Fair, is a petition drive calling on Villanova to lift its restrictions on funding for externships and summer fellowships at reproductive justice organizations. The restrictions stem from the school’s Catholic belief in the sanctity of life but the rules do not bar externships or fellowships with offices that advocate for the death penalty such as district attorney’s offices. Led by Villanova NLGer Susan Stanton, the chapter has formed an 18-member taskforce and obtained signatures from over 220 students, which is almost one third of the student body.

The second project is the Notario and Immigration Attorney Fraud Project, which brings together students from Philadelphia area law schools to fight against notaries public (notarios) and lawyers who are taking advantage of immigrants. Led by Guild student Vanessa Stine, student members have conducted research on the legal remedies available to fraud victims, set up a fraud hotline, and set up trainings. Trained students will conduct interviews, identify possible remedies, and join in the larger movement to combat notario and immigration attorney fraud. 

For more information about the Villanova NLG chapter, visit

Vanessa Stine


Gonzaga University

Students have re-booted the Guild chapter at Gonzaga Law School in Spokane, Washington. In October, the chapter partnered with four other student groups to bring Oregon Guild member Eric Sirotkin to Spokane to speak about international human rights. The following month, the chapter hosted a Legal Observer® training led by Guild members Larry Hildes and Karen Weill. The student chapter is also connecting Spokane attorneys with area activists, particularly members of Occupy Spokane, which has developed a new focus on the proposed regional expansion of coal train operations, as well as foreclosure and eviction defense.

Lindsey Schromen-Wawrin


Northwestern University

Students at Northwestern University Law School (NU) were proud to start their own NLG chapter during the 2011-2012 school year. In its first year, the chapter sent Legal Observers® to Occupy Chicago protests and led a demonstration protesting the killing of Trayvon Martin, the first demonstration at NU in 20 years. NU student members hosted an NLG welcome meeting for 1Ls at the end of orientation and followed up with a Chicago-wide DisOrientation, which drew more than 60 law students. Speakers at the Dis-O included Bernardine Dohrn, Juan Perea, and Owen McCartin as well as a number of NLG lawyers. Chicago’s Next Gen Committee hosted a happy hour after Dis-O, bringing the Chicago NLG community together under one roof. The NU student chapter looks forward to being a lasting part of the NLG.

Vikko Otero and Katie Feeley


New York University

The NYU Law NLG chapter gives students the unique opportunity to engage in grassroots organizing, teaching, and court observation. The chapter carries out its Legal Observer® and Street Law Programs in coordination with the New York City NLG chapter. Both projects are particularly relevant in New York City, where police harassment is enshrined in the NYPD policy of stop and frisk and brutality at protests is a regular occurrence. A third project is administered exclusively by students. The NYU chapter’s Immigration Court Observation Project trains law students to attend immigration proceedings and document their observations, with an emphasis on identifying lapses in due process. Also, for the past several years, NYU has been host to the city’s annual DisOrientation. In 2012, NYU joined NLG chapters from Brooklyn Law School, New York Law School, Fordham, Columbia, Cardozo, and CUNY for the event, which drew nearly 100 students. Dis-O workshops and panels covered topics including stop and frisk, maintaining ideals when faced with the demands of private practice, and law school advocacy and organizing.

Geoffrey Wertime


University of Colorado

The UC Law (CU) LG chapter has seen incredible growth over the last year. During the summer, CU’s new leaders spent time networking with local social justice organizations, legal observing, and planning the fall DisOrientation. But first, the chapter successfully shoehorned a Legal Observer® training into the school’s 1L orientation, drawing about 30 people to learn the ways of the green hat. At DisOrientation, another 25 students heard from faculty sponsors and local Guild attorneys about their work, signed up for the chapter reading group and the national convention, and attended a short discussion about critical thinking in doctrinal classes. Between orientation and DisOrientation, the CU NLG chapter signed up a fifth of the 1L class. Since then, the chapter has hosted about three events per month on topics such as health care, civil rights, and peace building. The chapter is also coordinating with the Denver University chapter to create a law student mentorship program and to plan the Southwest Regional Conference, which will be held March 2013 in Denver.

Whitney Leeds


University of District Columbia

The newly energized UDC NLG chapter was the largest contingent at the 2012 D.C. DisOrientation. Chapter members sat on a panel about staying radical in law school and facilitated the keynote panel on radical lawyering. In October, the chapter held a workshop at UDC titled “Women’s Rights, United Nations Measures and Effective Advocacy,” which offered an introduction to international human rights law and inspired several 1Ls to seek internships abroad in 2013. In November, the chapter observed the Day of the Dead and celebrated Hispanic Heritage month by screening Precious Knowledge, a documentary about the ethnic studies programs at Tucson High School, and connecting with some of the program’s teachers by Skype after the screening. Also in November, the chapter held a care package drive for military women on mission in Afghanistan, hosted a vegan Thanksgiving celebration, and raised awareness around the international Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers.

Elisabeth Fernandez