Legal Observer Program
The NLG Legal Observer ("LO") Program is part of a comprehensive system of legal support which is designed to enable people to express their political views as fully as possible, without unconstitutional disruption or interference by the government and with the least possible consequences from the criminal justice system. The LO Program works to build and maintain principled, trust-based relationships with the activists and organizations who request our services.
The primary role of a Legal Observer is to observe and record incidents and the activities of law enforcement, including any arrest, use of force, intimidating display of force, denial of access to public spaces like parks and sidewalks, and any other behavior that appears to restrict demonstrators’ ability to express their political views.
Legal Observers don’t give legal or tactical advice, negotiate with the police for demonstrators, or speak to the press or public on behalf of demonstrators. Legal observers also do not interfere with arrests or police activity in any way.
Legal Observers are often, but not exclusively, law students, legal workers, or lawyers. Legal Observers are trained and directed by Guild attorneys, who often have established attorney-client relationships with activist organizations, or are in litigation challenging police tactics at political protests.
Request Legal Observers or Jail Hotline for Your Event
If you need Legal Observers at your upcoming demonstration or event, please send an email to: email@example.com with the details of your events (date, time, location, description of the event). Please also let us know if you would like our Jail Hotline phone number available during your event.
While we strive to accommodate all requests for Legal Observers and the Jail Hotline, it is often difficult to find volunteers who are available on short notice, so please contact us as early as possible.
How to Become a Legal Observer
You do not have to be a lawyer to be a Legal Observer. Legal Observers can also be law students, legal workers, activists, and community organizers who support progressive, leftist, and radical movements. You cannot be a Legal Observer if you are employed by any type of law enforcement or prosecutor agency or are an immediate family member of law enforcement or prosecutors.
To become a Legal Observer, you must complete a Legal Observer training. ALG hosts periodic LO trainings. If you have been trained elsewhere, ALG will confirm with the chapter who trained you and give you a brief overview of our chapter-specific processes before you can LO with us.
If you'd like to become a Legal Observer with the Austin chapter, please fill out this form and check the date of our next Legal Observer training.