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.