Disability Rights Law Clinic

The DRLC is a two-semester clinic in which law students represent clients and their families in a variety of matters related to disability law and people with disabilities (both mental and physical). A significant focus of the DRLC is on examining circumstances in which clients with disabilities are wrongly assumed to lack physical or mental capacity to participate in society to the same extent as people without disabilities. The Disability Rights Law Clinic (DRLC) began operation in Fall 2005. Professor Robert Dinerstein founded the clinic and directs it.

 

Our Areas of Focus

As in the other WCL clinics, the DRLC emphasizes the importance of the student functioning in role as an attorney for the client(s). Students have primary responsibility for handling all aspects of the client’s case, from initial interview through meetings (such as IEP meetings in special education cases) and any contested hearing or trial (and, if necessary, appeal). Students also have the opportunity to interact with clients with a range of disabilities, and with their family members, and to explore the nature of the lawyer-client relationship with such clients. In addition, we will focus on the various ways in which society in general, and the legal system in particular, deals with people with disabilities. In both casework and in the seminar, students learn pre-litigation skills (interviewing, counseling, negotiation, development of case theory), litigation skills (direct examination, cross-examination, openings and closings), dealing with expert witnesses, and mediation skills. Inevitably, as well, students confront ethical issues that arise in the practice of law, as clinics, including the DRLC, provide excellent sites for learning about, and reflecting upon, ethical issues that can be straightforward or complex.

Meet our Faculty and Staff

 

Robert Dinerstein

Professor of Law Associate Dean for Experiential Education Director, Disability Rights Law Clinic

 

Robert Dinerstein is professor of law, director of the clinical program (1988-96 and 2008-present), associate dean for experiential education (2012-present) and director of the Disability Rights Law Clinic (2005-present) at AU's Washington College of Law, where he has taught since 1983. He was the law school's associate dean for academic affairs from 1997-2004. He specializes in the fields of clinical education and disability law, especially mental disabilities law (including issues of consent/choice, capacity and guardianship), the Americans with Disabilities Act, the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, legal representation of clients with mental disabilities, and disability and international human rights.

 

Adrian Alvarez

Practitioner-in-Residence

 

Hilary Kelly

Sr. Administrative Assistant

 

Hilary Kelly is the senior administrative assistant for the Disability Rights Law Clinic.