1937 February 20

National Lawyers Guild, Alternative to ABA, is Organized


The National Lawyers Guild was created as an alternative to American Bar Association by progressive attorneys who were dissatisfied with the conservative posture of the ABA. The NLG also was the nation’s first racially integrated bar association. The ABA at this time did not admit African-Americans (see August 27, 1943). The Guild was also involved in the civil rights movement from an early date, organizing a 1947 conference on the issue of lynching.

During the McCarthy era, the Guild was alleged by the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) to be a Communist front organization, and attacked as the Communist Party’s “legal mouthpiece” by Attorney General Herbert Brownell (August 27, 1953). Because of the attacks, it lost a large number of members and was gravely weakened. Despite the Cold War attacks, however, the National Lawyers Guild is still active today (see below).

Visit the National Lawyers Guild web site: www.nlg.org

Learn more: Ann Fagan Ginger and Eugene Tobin, eds., The National Lawyers Guild: From Roosevelt Through Reagan (1988)

The Guild’s History: http://www.nlg.org/about/history/

Follow a timeline of the Lawyers Guild’s history: http://www.nlg.org/about/history/anniversary

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