Carla Ham is co-founder of Ham Law Entertainment, a law firm that is devoted to serving the music and entertainment industry. A former entertainer herself, she has lived in the world of her clients, performing on stage with acts big and small from Kid Rock at the Aragon Ballroom, to Chris Casello at Reggies Music Joint and dozens of venues in between, giving her a unique perspective into the law by enabling her to anticipate problems before they arise. After years of watching her colleagues struggle to create their art under difficult contracts, she decided to attend law school to help the cause of entertainers everywhere.
Today, Ham is a licensed attorney and graduate of IIT/Chicago-Kent College of Law (2011), a tier one national law school. She holds a Bachelor’s in Psychology from Northwestern University (2008) and a Masters in Communications and Public Relations from DePaul University (2006). Ham volunteers with Lawyers for the Creative Arts and is an LCA Associate Board Events Committee member. She is presently an associate attorney with Eldon L. Ham PC.
Q: How did you learn about Lawyers for the Creative Arts and what led you to apply to join the Associate Board?
A: A few years ago, I was asked to speak on a panel at my former law school, Chicago-Kent, where we spoke with students interested in entertainment law. Michelle Wahl, the current President of the LCA Associate Board, was also on that panel. Michelle told me all about this amazing non-profit that helps artists in the Chicago area, and the rest was history.
What’s your favorite LCA memory?
My favorite memory is the 2019 Shindy because I was able to get to know my colleagues, and meet other people interested in the arts and law. It didn’t hurt that the band was great, too!
Which LCA or Associate Board events have you participated in?
Since joining the Events Committee, we initially began planning a venue tour, which unfortunately was rendered impossible due to the times. Luckily, one of our team members had the idea for a virtual trivia event which I was able to participate in last month. Other than that, I have volunteered where needed – whether at an LCA booth at a festival, or running errands for the Shindy.
What types of LCA matters have you taken on?
I am a transactional attorney, so I have volunteered to work with agreements for a variety of clients ranging from hair stylists to recording artists.
What has it been like working with our clients? How does it differ from your job at your firm?
I LOVE my LCA clients. I may be biased, but LCA clients have been some of the nicest clients I have worked with.
What advice would you give to an attorney who is considering taking an LCA matter?
Do it. There are so many artists out there that cannot afford an attorney, and sometimes that prevents them from being able to create their art. It is the most rewarding feeling to be even a small part of helping make that art come to life.
Do you have any personal background in the arts?
I was a professional dancer for a large part of my life (and still am in my heart and occasional night out). I have played piano since I was young and still play to this day. I have also been known to pick up a saxophone, guitar, melodica, or occasional drumstick from time to time, though I wouldn’t recommend being in the room when I do.
Do you participate in or follow the arts here in Chicago?
Yes. My life is rock and roll, especially rock and roll from small, wild bands with a live performance that will rile up any audience. I tend to find myself in the rockabilly crowd, and through that world have tumbled into traditional country, psychobilly, and punk.
What about the arts in Chicago strikes you as unique?
The attitude. Chicagoans are in it together. We support each other and, and at least in the rock world, are fairly inclusive compared to other cities and countries in my experience. As long as you’re cool, people are cool to you.
How does LCA support the arts in Chicago and why do you think this work is so vital to the arts?
LCA is vital to the arts in Chicago because it makes art possible that otherwise may not have been possible due to lack of funds, legal experience, or a host of other issues artists face.
Which tv-show/movie/song/book have you recently finished that you would recommend?
TV: Peaky Blinders. Song: Anything written by Hillbilly Casino. Movie: The Breakfast Club. Book: A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving.
What's a fun fact about you?
I was a go-go dancer at the major nightclubs in Chicago throughout college and law school. I’ve danced for Kid Rock, The Chicago Fire, and still dance nearly every day with Dance Forever.
Thank you to Carla for taking the time to answer our questions! Follow us on social media for future Featured Members from our Associate Board.