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Beyond Legal Aid

Chicago, United States
Joined November 2019

We collaborate with community organizations and activists to bring legal services to underserved populations

Presence in: United States
Focus: Generalist Legal Services

Beyond Legal Aid unites lawyers and activists in a collaborative pursuit for justice by leveraging legal services to benefit the most marginalized communities and individuals. BEYOND is changing legal aid. We are changing how lawyers and communities work together. Our lawyers work with activists to help their communities access justice and pursue social change.

BEYOND’S community activism lawyering model addresses the funding and impact limitations in legal aid programs. In conventional legal services organizations, lawyers operate from their offices— often downtown, where individual clients come and receive services if they meet the guidelines established by the organization.

BEYOND’s model is community-located, community-collaborative, and community-directed.

We leverage the resources of partner activist organizations and their communities to develop our activism-law clinics. We use free, existing neighborhood spaces, and the community provides staffing, language and administrative support, and office supplies. Our partners decide the hours, areas of law, priority areas, eligibility criteria, location, and types of services. BEYOND’s lawyers help individual clients like other lawyers, but we do so in partnership with and while empowering our partners. Our attorneys balance individual cases with projects supporting our partners’ activism work.

Thus, we change how lawyers and legal aid operate, develop a new paradigm for grassroots activism, and achieve systemic change through our community activism collaborations.

People Associated With This Organization

Hanan Van Dril

United States  
Beyond Legal Aid
Joined November 2019
Interests: Generalist Legal Services
Supervising attorney at Beyond Legal Aid in Chicago, IL, USA

Lam Ho

United States  
Beyond Legal Aid
Joined August 2018
Interests: Community / Customary Land Rights, Economic Empowerment, Gender-based violence, Generalist Legal Services, Housing & Sanitation, Labor & Employment, Traditional / Customary Justice, Women's Rights
Lam Ho is the Founder & Executive Director of CALA, which unites lawyers and activists through community-located, community-operated, and community-directed “activism-law programs” for over 4000 people annually, including undocumented immigrants, sex workers, laborers, and activists. CALA impacts thousands more through collaborations with activists and activist organizations. Prior to founding CALA, he was an attorney at Equip for Equality, and Skadden Fellow at LAF, where he established 10 free community-based legal clinics on the west side of Chicago. He experienced firsthand the challenges of community lawyering and civil legal services, and was inspired to innovatively change the legal aid system in the US through CALA's "community activism lawyering" model.

He is a graduate of Harvard Law School. He holds additional graduate degrees from Brown University, where he completed its 4-year M.A./A.B. program, and the University of Oxford, where he was a Marshall Scholar.

Saul Brand Padilla

United States  
Beyond Legal Aid
Joined August 2019
Interests: Citizenship, Criminal Justice, Gender-based violence, Generalist Legal Services
I am a latix gay immigrant. I'm the Program Administrator with Community Activism Law Alliance (CALA) based in Chicago Illinois. I am looking forward to being part of this network to learn best practices from other non-attorneys on how to navigate the legal system.

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