Community Activism Law Alliance (CALA)

Chicago, IL

Lam Ho (J.D. ’14) has been awarded a seed grant to establish the Community Activism Law Alliance (CALA) in Chicago, Illinois. This new non-profit organization will “bring legal services directly to disadvantaged communities that otherwise do not have access to legal assistance. It will use an innovative practice model, community activism lawyering, to not only provide legal services but also support grassroots activism in the community. This will be accomplished through law clinics located directly in the communities they serve, in collaboration with local activist organizations.” These local partner organizations include Enlace Chicago, the Sex Workers Outreach Project, the Immigrant Youth Justice League and Organized Communities Against Deportation.

After graduating from Harvard Law School, Lam joined Chicago’s Legal Assistance Foundation as a staff attorney through the Skadden Foundation Public Interest Fellowship. During his time at LAF, he established and ran 10 community-based clinics providing free legal services to youth and their families on the west side of Chicago. He experienced firsthand the challenges of community lawyering and civil legal services, and was inspired to innovatively confront these challenges through the creation of CALA.

Before joining LAF, Lam was heavily involved in legal services at Harvard Law School, serving as President of the Harvard Legal Aid Bureau. He also worked as a research/teaching assistant to Professor Lucie White and a student attorney in the Harvard Defenders Program, while participating in several on-campus organizations and activities including the Model Campus Sexual Assault Project, the Big Brother Big Sister Program, the Harvard Law Record, the Harvard Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Law Review, LAMBDA, and the Tennis Club. In his three years at the law school, Lam also worked with two off-campus organizations – Reaching Out Depression in Cambridge and the Gay Straight Alliance in Brockton, MA, which he co-founded when he was in high school – in addition to completing summer internships at the ACLU National Legal Department in New York City, the Massachusetts Law Reform Institute in Boston, and the Urban Justice Center in New York City. He also founded and ran the HLS Chapter of the Giving Tree, a charity organization he had started as an undergraduate.

Lam received multiple awards during his time at HLS, including the 13th Annual NALP/ PSLawNet (now PSJd) Pro Bono Publico Award; the Gary Bellow Public Service Award; the Maria, Gabriella, & Robert Skirnick Public Interest Fellowship; the HLS Dean’s Award for Community Leadership; the Kaufman Pro Bono Service Award; the Beinecke Scholarship; the Point Foundation Scholarship; the Sonnenschein Scholars Summer Public Interest Fellowship; and the Lenn Thrower ’83 Memorial Fellowship for Research in Queer Studies.

Since finishing his Skadden Fellowship in 2010, Lam has worked as a staff attorney for Equip for Equality, where he represents children with disabilities and their families at all levels of administrative and judicial proceedings in state and federal courts. In 2014, the Governor appointed Lam the Chairperson of the Illinois HIV/AIDS Response Review Panel, a state commission on HIV prevention and treatment in the Illinois prison system. Lam has also been awarded a 2015 Echoing Green Global Fellowship to support his work with the Community Activism Law Alliance.