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.

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Our Areas of Focus

As in the other AUWCL clinics, the DRLC emphasizes each student's role as an attorney for his or her clients. 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.

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