Christopher Clark is the Midwest Regional Director and National Pro Bono Director for Lambda Legal, the oldest and largest organization dedicated to advancing the civil rights of lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, transgender people and those with HIV. He also serves as the organization’s Youth & Schools Program Strategist. His work involves a variety of legal matters, including the legal recognition of same-sex relationships, employment discrimination, HIV discrimination, students’ rights and transgender rights.
Clark was actively involved in securing the freedom to marry for same-sex couples in Illinois, serving as co-counsel in litigation in state and federal courts and testifying before the Illinois Senate executive committee in support of marriage equality legislation.
Clark represented a 16-year-old Ohio high school student who was threatened with suspension for wearing a T-shirt to school that included the message “Jesus Is Not a Homophobe.” The case resulted in a judgment finding that the school district and principal had violated the student’s First Amendment rights, an award of damages and attorneys’ fees, and an injunction prohibiting the defendants from interfering with the student’s right to wear the T-shirt.
Clark represented the statewide equality group Fair Wisconsin and five same-sex couples in their defense against a legal challenge to Wisconsin’s domestic partnership registry. An anti-gay group attempted to argue that the registry, which provides important legal protections for Wisconsin families, violated the state’s constitutional amendment prohibiting marriages for same-sex couples. Clark argued the matter before the Wisconsin Supreme Court, which affirmed the constitutionality of the law in a unanimous decision.
Clark also represented on appeal an HIV-positive Iowan who was initially sentenced to 25 years in prison, with required registration as a sex offender, after having a one-time sexual encounter with another man during which they used a condom. Clark argued the matter before the Iowa Supreme Court. In its 6-1 decision setting aside the conviction, the Court recognized that individuals who have a reduced viral load as a result of effective treatment pose little risk of transmitting HIV.
Clark has also done significant work on behalf of the transgender community. He represented an indigent transgender woman in her successful effort to persuade the Illinois Supreme Court to order officials in Will County, Illinois, to file and consider her motion to change her legal name and her petition for a waiver of the associated filing fees. He also obtained a favorable settlement on behalf of a young transgender woman in Indiana who was barred from her high school prom because she was wearing a dress.
Prior to joining Lambda Legal, Clark worked for over 10 years as a commercial litigator in private practice. As a partner at the law firm of Sachnoff & Weaver, Clark represented businesses and individuals in complex commercial disputes involving a wide array of legal issues spanning employment law, securities regulation, intellectual property, contract law and business torts. He is an accomplished trial attorney, having represented clients in bench and jury trials in federal and state courts, as well as in numerous mediations, arbitrations and administrative proceedings.
When the Sachnoff firm merged with Reed Smith in 2007, Clark was appointed to the position of deputy leader of the Chicago litigation practice of the combined firm. He also served on the LGBT subcommittee of the firm’s diversity committee and actively participated in the recruitment of LGBT attorneys and law students as a member of the firm’s recruiting committee.
Clark graduated with honors from the University of Chicago Law School in 1996, where he was the recipient of the Stonewall Scholarship, given to the student most likely to advance the cause of civil rights for LGBT people. He also worked as a volunteer advocate on behalf of the homeless in the law school’s Mandel Legal Aid Clinic. Clark received his undergraduate degree, cum laude, from Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs in 1987.
Clark is currently an adjunct professor at the Northwestern University School of Law where he teaches Sexual Orientation and the Law.