National Lawyers Guild

Who we are

The National Lawyers Guild is the oldest public-interest bar association in the United States. It is dedicated to the proposition that "human rights shall be regarded as more sacred than property interests." The guild has a long history of progressive lawyering, representing victims of anticommunist hysteria, civil rights activists, antiwar protestors and occupy demonstrators. For example, the guild was involved in the defense of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., when he wrote "Letter from Birmingham Jail." As of June 2014, the Detroit chapter of the guild was litigating Phillips v. Snyder, the case challenging the constitutionality of PA 436 and the appointment of emergency managers, and representing the MI-CATS 3, three activists arrested during a non-violent protest of the Enbridge pipeline.

Some notable guild members are civil rights and constitutional rights attorney Bill Goodman; former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm; former NAACP Litigation Director the late Charles Hamilton Houston; retired Michigan Supreme Court Justice Marilyn Kelly; former U.S. Supreme Court Justice the late Thurgood Marshall; Michael Steinberg, legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan; and U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-MI. 

What we do

The Wayne Law student chapter is active in the community. Most guild members intern and clerk with progressive law offices, including civil rights firms, legal aid organizations, nonprofits, criminal defense firms and public defender offices, and labor unions. Additionally, many guild students serve as legal observers at protests.

Contact us

2018-19 Contact person – Cait De Mott Grady


National organization

Detroit and Michigan chapter

Training the next generation of lawyers, advocates and leaders