Spotlight on The Center for HIV Law and Policy (CHLP)


Back in January we shone the Progressive Lawyer spotlight on the The Center for HIV Law & Policy and chatted with Legal Director Ivan Espinoza-Madrigal. With news that Ivan has moved on to head the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights in Boston (of which we hope to do a feature on soon) we thought it appropriate to revisit this post in case you missed it. Catherine Hanssens is the current Executive Director and Founder, Tosh Anderson is the Program Manager and Mayo Schreiber is the Senior Criminal Law and Managing Consultant.

This week we talk to Ivan Espinoza-Madrigal of The Center for HIV Law and Policy (CHLP) on the work they do to reduce the impact of HIV on vulnerable and marginalized communities and to secure the human rights of people affected by HIV

Progressive Lawyer: Please introduce yourself and describe your role in The Center for HIV Law & Policy.

Ivan Espinoza-Madrigal: My name is Ivan Espinoza-Madrigal, and I am a civil rights lawyer advocating for racial justice, immigration and LGBT/HIV equality. I am the Legal Director of The Center for HIV Law and Policy (CHLP). As Legal Director, I set legal and policy strategy, guide CHLP’s work, and supervise the organization’s lawyers and staff. I oversee CHLP’s legal and policy efforts across the country. CHLP’s website contains more information about our work (

PL: Why was CHLP started? What issues does it confront?

IE-M: CHLP is a national legal and policy resource and strategy center working to reduce the impact of HIV on vulnerable and marginalized communities and to secure the human rights of people affected by HIV. CHLP is a national leader on policy development. We advise policy makers, lawyers, and community advocates.

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Canadian Lawyers Abroad – Avocats canadiens à l’étranger: Using Law to Improve Lives

For this edition of the Progressive Lawyer Spotlight, we shine it on Canadian Lawyers Abroad – Avocats canadiens à l’étranger, an amazing organization that supports good governance, rule of law and human rights work in the developing world and Canada. We recently spoke to Executive Director Brittany Twiss who took time out of her very busy schedule to fill us in on what CLA-ACE is all about.

Progressive Lawyer: Please give us an overview of the kind of projects CLA-ACE is involved in.

Brittany Twiss: CLA-ACE is a catalyst for positive social change. Through education and engagement we are increasing access to justice for marginalized populations worldwide, and enabling law students and lawyers to use their legal training to make a difference. Two extraordinary women, Yasmin Shaker (International Trade and Investment Counsel, Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development) and Catherine McKenna (Ottawa Centre Candidate, Liberty Party of Canada), founded CLA-ACE in 2005 in Ottawa.

At present, we have three major programs in operation:

National Dare to Dream Program

We are positively transforming the way First Nation, Métis, and Inuit youth aged 11-14 perceive and engage with the justice system through meaningful interaction with legal professionals and fun, justice-focused learning activities. Dare to Dream is now in operation in Toronto, Ottawa, Saskatoon, Calgary and the Siksika Nation, with over 150 students and 80 volunteers participating.

National Student Chapter Program

We have Student Chapters at 15 law schools across Canada where we educate and engage students on pressing social justice issues. In the fall of 2014, we worked with various refugee law experts to draft a report and host an intensive two-day conference on “Access to Justice for Refugees” at UOttawa. After attending the conference, the students from across Canada returned to their schools to host their own refugee rights events and contribute reports to our national student journal.

International Student Internship Program

We enhance the capacity of international and indigenous human rights organizations, and provide law students with important learning experiences beyond the classroom. Since 2005, 120 students have provided valuable legal assistance to 35 organizations in 10 countries. In the summer of 2015, students will be placed in Kenya, Ghana, Namibia, Thailand, India, Bangladesh, Alaska, D.C., and throughout Canada.

PL: How do you pick partner organizations?

BT: We collaborate with other non-profit organizations that share our mission to use law to improve lives. Typically an intern host organization will conduct work in the areas of human rights, good governance and/or the rule of law, and will be working towards increasing access to justice for marginalized or underserved populations. The host organization is required to provide our interns with a legal supervisor and substantive, meaningful and educational legal tasks.

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Why I Do What I Do: International Free Speech and Human Rights Lawyer Jennifer Robinson

This week we kick off our brand new feature “Why I Do What I do” where we talk to an amazing array of lawyers who explain why they have taken the path less travelled in their legal careers. We hope you find reading these features to be as inspiring to you as they are to us. This week we feature Jennifer Robinson. (Updated with a video highlighting the first ever Bertha Justice Initiative Global Convening in Cape Town, South Africa, in March 2014)

Jennifer Robinson
Jennifer Robinson

Global justice requires global leadership. This month, Progressive Lawyer is proud to feature the work of Jennifer Robinson, Director of Legal Advocacy for the Bertha Justice “Be Just” Initiative for the Bertha Foundation.

An Australian native and a Rhodes Scholar, Jen is an internationally known human rights and free speech lawyer whose clients have included the New York Times, CNN, Human Rights Watch and Global Witness. Since 2010, Jen has been a member of the legal team advocating for Julian Assange and WikiLeaks.

Additionally, Jen is a contributing author to such seminal media law texts Law on Contempt (2010), Information Rights: Law and Practice (2014) and, later this year, Robertson and Nichol on Media Law. She also writes for publications such as Al Jazeera English, Sydney Morning Herald and Vogue.

Jen joined the Bertha Foundation in 2011 and established the Be Just Initiative to support the next generation of human rights lawyers around the world. The Be Just Initiative now supports more than 100 lawyers in 15 different countries. She also provides strategic advice to activists and social justice filmmakers supported by the Foundation.

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Fighting Bad Guys Since 1961: Human Rights Pioneer Amnesty International

Layout 1Founded in 1961, Amnesty International has grown to be one of the most respected and preeminent human rights organizations on the planet. Combining the global appeal of a populist, membership based organization with an activist, research-based human rights organization, Amnesty International has evolved into a worldwide organization campaigning on a multitude of human rights issues. Progressive Lawyer chatted with Anna Shea, an Amnesty legal advisor working for the International Secretariat in London, England. A graduate of McGill University’s School of Law, Anna started out as a Canadian articling student. She talks about working with Amnesty and offers some tips for the law student looking to break into human rights law.

In the interests of full disclosure, I have been a longtime member of Amnesty International since the mid ’80s.

Progressive Lawyer: Hello! Please introduce yourself and describe your role in Amnesty International.

Anna Shea: I am the Legal Adviser on Refugee and Migrant Rights at Amnesty International’s head office in London, UK. In this role, I do a wide variety of work, such as overseeing legal interventions at national and regional courts, researching human rights violations on the ground, writing reports, doing individual casework, and advising colleagues on international human rights standards related to refugee and migrant rights.

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