Chad Baker ’15 received the Andrew L. Kaufman Pro Bono Service Award for exemplifying the pro bono public spirit and demonstrating an extraordinary commitment to improving and delivering high quality volunteer legal services to disadvantaged communities. The award is granted each year in honor of Professor Andrew Kaufman, who has been instrumental in creating and supporting the Pro Bono Program at Harvard Law School.
During his time at HLS, Chad has been an inspiring leader. He has contributed thousands of pro bono hours by working with the Tenant Advocacy Project, Prison Legal Assistance Project, and the Harvard Legal Aid Bureau (HLAB).
Chad was an excellent Executive Director of HLAB, “not only because he ran the office with strength and compassion, but because he continued taking hard cases while doing it,” said Clinical Professor of Law Esme Caramello who supervised him. “He also played a crucial role in setting the tone in the community, keeping us all focused on HLAB’s anti-poverty mission and ensuring that everyone here was constantly looking critically at their work and asking whether they were serving the right goals in the right way. Chad was much more than a functionary; he was a leader whose dedication and vision inspired everyone here to do more work, better and more thoughtfully.”
Chad’s client work has also been extraordinary. His Clinical Instructor, Patricia Whiting said “Chad demonstrated research and writing skills that I can honestly categorize as exemplary. During his two years at the Bureau, Chad researched and drafted a wide variety of documents: from pleadings and correspondence to an opposition to the landlord’s motion for summary judgment on behalf of a disabled client being evicted from public housing.” Chad’s work made a significant impact in his client’s life and is only one example of his commitment to helping people.
“[He] has been the heart and soul of the Harvard Legal Aid Bureau,” said Whiting. “He has done extraordinary work as a student attorney in all of our practice areas, and has quietly made the Bureau a better legal services organization as well as a richer community.”
As an example, Chad helped revitalize HLAB’s Social Security disability practice by recruiting students to take disability cases, creating and running a streamlined investigation and intake system, and developing an enormous and resource-rich internal wiki containing all of the materials a Bureau student could need to handle a first disability law case.
“I’m so honored to receive the Kaufman award,” said Chad. “I’ve been tremendously grateful for the ample student practice opportunities at HLS. Student practice organizations and HLAB gave me the chance to learn real lawyering skills from talented colleagues and supervisors while serving marginalized communities.”
Next year Chad is going to Chicago to work with Bureau alum and 2008 winner of Kaufman Pro Bono Award Lam Ho, in his new community lawyering startup, Community Activism Law Alliance.