The legal profession must ensure equal justice and equal access by representing people with disabilities.

Pamela Hoopes discusses the existing barriers, and how people with disabilities have rights and may need to exercise those rights through the legal process.

We must ensure that people with disabilities are represented in law schools, law firms and the court system.

Attorneys must fulfill their pro bono obligations, and law school clinics can assist students in learning about disabilities.

The Honorable Wilhelmina M. Wright, US District Judge, District of Minnesota, discusses access to representation for people with disabilities in Minnesota.

Legal representation of people with disabilities gives attorneys the chance to do meaningful civil rights work.

How can law students and practicing attorneys looking for pro bono work get involved?

1) CLEs and law school classes should cover disability topics. CLEs and training can help lawyers feel prepared and educated to help clients with disabilities.

Judge Donovan Frank: The Largest Minority Group

2) Including a person with a developmental disability on a CLE panel. An inclusive CLE panel has helped to break down stereotypes for students, lawyers, and more.

Judge Donovan Frank: An Inclusive Training Program

Judge Donovan Frank: An Inspirational Blind Juror Story

Judge Donovan Frank: Disability Discrimination in Sexual Abuse Cases

Judge Donovan Frank: Diversity is Strength

Judge Donovan Frank: Adding Disabilities to Diversity Laws

Judge Donovan Frank: The Disproportionate Impact of the Pandemic on People with Disabilities

From Boston College Law Review, 2015

Accidentally on Purpose: Intent in Disability Law

Mark Weber, DePaul University College of Law, discusses how courts have required an element of intent in discrimination lawsuits, despite disability discrimination laws having few intent requirements. He states that requiring claimants show intent imposes a substantial burden that cannot be found in statutes or regulations. Weber argues that intent requirements should not be imposed on section 504 ADA cases. The article shows that there is not an intent requirement for ADA employment cases and suggests the same should apply to state and local government provisions and section 504. (Added 5-12-16)

References and Resources

A guide to disability rights laws

Vermont Communication Support Project

Congressional Research Service issue statement about ADA + civil rights

Unequal rights — books for sale

Disability Law and Practice


ASD in Criminal Court