Harvard Law at CALA



Read the Harvard Law Today feature (with pictures): http://today.law.harvard.edu/2015-spring-break-clinical-pro-bono/

CALA recently hosted a group of Harvard Law students as part of HLS' Pro Bono Spring Break Trips 2015 Instead of sipping cocktails on a tropical beach, the student came to windy Chicago and prepared, conducted outreach for, and provided legal services at three workshops in Little Village and South Chicago. The students helped undocumented students complete initial and renewal applications for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) applications, and parents determine eligibility and prepare documentation for Deferred Action for Parental Accountability (DAPA) applications. In a single week, which included working on Friday night and Saturday, the students helped over 80 families!

The law students learned about CALA's community activism lawyering model, as they collaborated with community activist organizations, including Enlace-Chicago and Centro de Trabajadores Unidos-Immigrant Workers Project. In addition, they were also able to observe and explore community activism lawyering in action at CALA's clinics and at other community organizing activities, including presenting a Spanish-language training for Knowledge Hook-Up. 

Sponsored by the law school's Office of Clinical and Pro Bono Programs, the HLS Pro Bono Spring Break trips provided opportunities for students to use their spring breaks to do important pro bono work in Chicago, Alabama, the Mississippi Delta, and South Texas. The trips ran from March 14-22, 2015.

Some reflections from the participants, excerpted from the article written by one of the students, Isabel Broer. To read the full article, click here 

"Naomi Campbell writes: “This past week was completely reenergizing. CALA and the community organizations in Little Village and South Chicago are wonderful examples of community-led activism and it was great to see such a strong partnership between lawyers and organizers. I really valued putting names and faces to policies and ideas and learning more about the barriers undocumented people face on a daily basis. Their drive to advocate for themselves and for their families was inspiring. Thank you to Lam, Raymundo at CTU, and Lulu at Enlace Chicago for hosting and teaching us so much.”

Dami Animashaum echoes Naomi’s sentiments: “I am very grateful to have spent spring break working with Lam, CALA, Enlace, Knowledge Hookup, and CTU. These organizations and the many individuals, from dedicated staff members to community volunteers that keep them afloat are a blessing to the communities they serve and a model for other legal services organizations to aspire to. These organizations are directly situated in communities where access to legal and other social services are most needed, and through collaboration and coalition, they are making great strides to satisfying that need. A testament to the communal nature of these organizations is how seamlessly we were able to fit in; every single person was incredibly welcoming and made us feel like valued members of the team. The three DACA and DAPA workshop we staffed were extremely successful, we assisted over 80 people in completing or renewing their DACA application and preparing to apply for DAPA. I am sure this experience will inform the legal work I do in future.”

Finally, Andréa R. Lavourinha, an attorney from Brazil, reflects on her experiences: “Community lawyers play an essential role in addressing the kinds of structural problems low-income communities face. The trip is over, but the life lesson remains. Among workshops, clinics and sightseeing, the spring break clinic at CALA was an amazing opportunity to get in touch with the wonderful work developed by Lam Ho and his team. Also, we became aware of the various skills a community lawyer must develop in order to address the immigration and legal problems these communities face. Not only applications were filled up. Lam Ho, together with Nebula Li, and incredible community leaders – as Raymundo Valdez – help inform community members. They bring awareness of individuals’ rights. Weekly, they change the lives of a vast group of community members. It was an unforgettable experience to take part in this change during a week.”