Rights of Nature (recognition that all life has equal right to exist, thrive and evolve) is the fastest-growing legal and ethical movement in the world. Our legal system shapes our worldview. Advancing social and environmental justice requires us to take a closer look at how our system limits reform and serves privilege. First we link you to a discussion with the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF) lawyers. Next we point you to the good work of the National Lawyers Guild (NLG), with a long history on the forefront of social justice work.
Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund
Check out the final installment of a three part webinar series with CELDF attorneys. In parts 1 and 2 we looked at a Community’s and a Great Lake’s rebellion against a system that allows both to be harmed. In this webinar we will broaden out the strategy of Rights of Nature as a global movement for systemic change. In order to profoundly change our relationship with Nature we must decolonize the law. Rights of Nature is rooted in Indigenous knowledge and must be expanded into western law and culture. Join us for an open discussion with CELDF legal professionals on decolonizing law, culture, and our relationship with Nature.
Check out this 2018 paper by CELDF attorney Lindsey Schromen-Wawrin: “Representing Ecosystems in Court: An Introduction for Practitioners“. Western law treats the earth as property. We own it. So we have the right to destroy it.
National Lawyers Guild
It has become a truism that many are drawn to law school initially to further social justice, only to end up working in areas of the law that have little potential to serve these ideals. The most common reason cited for this is economic: the average law student emerges into practice with well over $100,000 in debt. However, this is not the only factor. In most universities, the culture and pedagogy of legal education tend to emphasize commercial law over public interest fields and the intellectual pressure of law school undermines student’s commitment to their ideals.
Radical Law Student Project gives guidance for law students determined to stay the course of their ideals. NLG Radical Law Student Manual leads the way. Also check out NLG’s Disorientation for law students.
Check out the history of the NLG: 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.
Here in Virginia, (and around the world), there has been a growing need for legal observers due to increased militarism of the police at public demonstrations. The NLG is one of the organizations that offers trainings for legal observers.