WCL Disability Rights Law Clinic Represents PWD and Their Families

The WCL Disability Rights Law Clinic (DRLC) is one of the first to emphasize autonomy and capacity of persons with disabilities. Founded in 2005, the DRLC is a two-semester clinic that allows law students to represent people with disabilities (both mental and physical) and their families in a variety of matters related to disability law. 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.

Each year the DRLC takes on broader advocacy projects that intersect between disability and human rights. Among the Clinic’s most recent accomplishments was producing a study, at the request of the US International Council on Disability (USCID), which evaluated whether each state’s guardianship laws were consistent with the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The results of the study were conveyed to the US Department of State and the US Department of Justice.

The Disability Rights Law Clinic was founded and is directed by Professor Robert Dinerstein, a well-known scholar in the field of disability rights. Internationally, he has consulted for the World Health Organization (Ghana and Malawi) and the Open Society Foundations (Ghana and Zambia) regarding the revision of mental health laws; consulted for the Open Society Foundations regarding their support of disability rights clinics in Africa and Latin America; was a signatory to the Montreal Declaration on Intellectual Disabilities, adopted in Montreal, Canada, in October 2004; and was a signatory to the International Disability Alliance’s Legal Opinion on Article 12 of the CRPD (2008). Prof. Dinerstein was appointed by President Clinton in 1994 to serve on the President’s Committee on Mental Retardation (now called the President’s Committee on People with Intellectual Disabilities), on which he served until 2001. Prior to joining WCL, he worked as an attorney in the US Department of Justice Civil Rights Division, Special Litigation Section, where he handled federal court cases on the rights of people in institutions for people with psychosocial disabilities, people with intellectual disabilities, and juveniles.

PBS Frontline Interview [After Newtown: The Path to Violence - 2/20/2013]  (Professor Dinerstein) - http://video.pbs.org/video/2336803730

More information on the WCL Disability Rights Law Clinic can be found at http://www.wcl.american.edu/clinical/disability.cfm