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The National Lawyers Guild (NLG) was founded in 1937 as an association of progressive lawyers and jurists who believed that they had a major role to play in the reconstruction of legal values to emphasize human rights over property rights. The Guild is the oldest and most extensive network of public interest and human rights activists working within the legal system.


The founders of the San Diego Chapter were John Porter, Mary Harvey, Ted Bumer, Judy DiGennaro, and Alex Landon. They had their first formal meeting at John Stephens’ house in January 1971. Charles Garry came down from San Francisco and was the guest speaker at the meeting. The five of them were involved with the ACLU Legal Panel. Judy and Alex were law students at the time. John Porter was a long time Guild member. Alex spent the Summer of 1970 working for the Los Angeles Selective Service and Military Legal Panel under guild member Bill Smith. Alex attended Guild meetings that Summer, and when he returned to school in the Fall, he began a student group at USD as part of the Law Students Civil Rights Research Council. John, Mary, Ted, Judy, and Alex met a few times and agreed that it was time to have a Guild Chapter in San Diego. They subsequently contacted a number of attorneys and law students and had their first event. The Guild provided a broader perspective in doing political work and using the law to relate to various progressive causes and groups in the community.

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