Legal Observer Program

legal-observersOverview of the Legal Observer Program

The NLG Legal Observer 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 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, tactical, or political 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 typically, but not exclusively, law students, legal workers, and 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.

If you are interested in participating in our Legal Observer program, you must attend an online training and submit an application (provided at the time of the training). We announce the dates and times of our Legal Observer trainings through our local listserv. To join the listserv, please email


Legal Observer Training

The next Legal Observer training will take place online: