Sharlyn Grace is CALA's new staff attorney and Coordinator of Community Legal Education
CALA is extremely pleased to introduce Sharlyn Grace as its new staff attorney. Sharlyn is passionate about using the law to support movements for social change and working with community partners to make legal services more impactful and relevant. At CALA, one of Sharlyn's roles will be coordinating our community legal education initiatives. Prior to joining CALA, she was an Americorps VISTA attorney at LAF (formerly Legal Assistance Foundation), where she coordinated the Juvenile Expungement Help Desk at the Cook County Juvenile Center. In that position, she developed a model of hosting pro bono expungement clinics for CPS students in alternative high schools. During her year at LAF, she presented more than 100 community member and service provider trainings. Sharlyn currently sits on the Board of Directors of the National Lawyers Guild of Chicago. She is a proud graduate of Northeastern University School of Law in Boston, where she participated in both the Civil Rights and Restorative Justice Clinic and the Prisoners' Rights Clinic.
In Sharlyn's own words:
1. Tell us a little about yourself. I am a new attorney who is passionate about using the law to support movements for social change and working with community partners to make legal services more impactful and relevant.
2. What does community activism lawyering mean to you? Why is it important? Community activism lawyering is a blend of community lawyering (bringing legal services into neighborhoods and making them responsive to community needs) and movement lawyering, which directly supports social change initiatives. It's important because traditional legal services alone cannot address the source of legal problems--only activism can do that. Keeping an individual in their home is vital work, but it doesn't stop their neighbor from being evicted the following week.
3. What do you most look forward to as an attorney at CALA? I am very excited about working with our organizational partners and implementing their ideas on how to provide better legal services to their communities.
4. What do you think are the most pressing issues facing attorneys in Chicago today? Cuts to legal services funding are hard, and funder emphasis on quantity of cases and traditional litigation outcomes often leaves less space for creative solutions.
5. Facing activists? Likewise, I think lack of resources is always a problem, especially for grassroots efforts; however, I am very inspired by all the organizing against privatization, exclusion, and criminalization happening here in Chicago.
6. What is one thing you want everyone to know about you? That I am really committed to this model, and am extremely open to feedback or suggestions on how I/we can do better. New projects can always benefit from dialogue.
7. One unique/unusual tidbit about you? I have four chickens in my backyard, and I'm a bicycle mechanic.
8. Final thought? Feel free to reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org!
CALA is extremely fortunate to have someone as committed to community activism lawyering join its staff.