The CLEVELAND CHAPTER OF THE NATIONAL LAWYERS GUILD is an organization of progressive lawyers, law students, and legal workers founded in 1937, the same year as the national organization. With 96 chapters (totaling 7,000 members) in the U.S., the guild was founded as a professional organization for lawyers who wished to break with the conservatism of other bar associations. Many early local members were generally younger and wished an alternative to the CLEVELAND BAR ASSN. (CBA) and the CUYAHOGA COUNTY BAR ASSN., which they believed were dominated by corporate lawyers. Martin A. McCormack was elected the chapter's president. Following the lead of the national organization, the Cleveland chapter opposed censorship of films and books and the appointment of certain judges, and supported Pres. Roosevelt's Supreme Court Plan. In the 1940s the Cleveland and Ohio chapters joined forces under Cleveland lawyer Russell N. Chase to fight the state for disallowing the COMMUNIST PARTY and other minority parties on the state ballot. It continued to support civil liberties and human rights into the 1950s, opposing special tests and loyalty oaths for public employees and teachers. Among its prominent members was future U.S. Senator Howard Metzenbaum. During the 1960s and 1970s, the Cleveland chapter sponsored special events and programs, including a conference on prison issues in 1972 and, in 1976, classes in Cleveland neighborhoods on tenant rights, Social Security, welfare (see WELFARE/RELIEF), and consumer rights. In 1986 the Cleveland chapter of the National Lawyers Guild maintained an office at the Cleveland-Marshall School of Law, CLEVELAND STATE UNIV.
Russell N. Chase Papers, WRHS.
See also LAW.