Assisting Law Students with Disabilities in the 21st Century

Presented by the Office of Student Affairs

March 10, 2011
8:00 am - 5:30 pm
American University Washington College of Law, Room 603
4801 Massachusetts Avenue, NW, Washington, DC

Program Flyer

8:00 am Registration and Breakfast
8:30 am Welcome Remarks - David Jaffe, Associate Dean for Student Affairs, American University Washington College of Law
8:45 am

Kicking Down the Door to Employment I: Of Mentors and Schedule A
Schedule A provides "Special Hiring Authorities" for people with disabilities, permitting a government agency to hire without competing against other applicants. Reasonable accommodations may be made, and individuals may be hired without public notice. How much do you know about this process: how to access it; how to communicate its availability to your students; and how to work with your colleagues (career services; student services) to provide the most effective support? Also, we all have a mentor; how do we convince our students of the merit in finding one of their own?

Panel: Myra Wilder, Senior Academic Counselor, American University Washington College of Law (moderator); Jo Linda Johnson, Director, Training & Outreach Division, Office of Federal Operations, United States Equal Employment Opportunities Commission; William Phelan, ABA Commission on Mental and Physical Disability Law; and Olegario “Ollie” D. Cantos VII, Civil Rights Attorney, U.S. Department of Justice

9:45 am

Kicking Down the Door to Employment II: Resources and How to Access Them
Accommodations for students in law school may continue in practice, but the process is not automatic and is not a given. Our panelists will share their perspectives on transitioning from law school into the various workforce sectors (private, public, government) and how best to prepare our students.

Panel: Paula Nailon, Assistant Dean for Professional Development, The University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law (moderator); Sheri Denkensohn, Special Assistant Counsel to the Inspector General, US Department of Health and Human Services; Andy Imparato, Senior Counsel and Disability Policy Director, US Senate Health, Education, Labor & Pensions (HELP) Committee; and Isaac Lidsky, Associate, Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP

11:15 am Break
11:30 am

The International Law Student: Culture; Access; and When We'll Stop Scrambling
The concept of accommodations can be alien to an incoming international law student, and inaccessible to any entering student. Whether made aware late in the process or not at all, the student typically arrives armed with minimal expectation or documentation regarding a disability. As administrators navigate the challenges of housing to insurance to personal assistance to academic accommodations, we will discuss best practices in this area, with the goal of distributing a guide on this topic.

Panel: Fanta Aw, Assistant Vice President, Campus Life, American University (moderator); Sandra P. Buteau, Director, Graduate Career and Professional Development, Office of Graduate Programs, Georgetown University Law Center; and Nana Sharia, Edmund S. Muskie Graduate Fellow, University of Louisville

12:30 pm Luncheon and Keynote Speaker: Patricia A. Shiu, Director, Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs, US Department of Labor
2:00 pm

Technology: Are You (and Your Vendors) Ahead of, Behind, or on the Curve?
It is virtually impossible to keep up with technology in our personal lives, let alone professionally when seeking to assist our students. At the same time, the recent lawsuit by the National Federation of the Blind leads to a host of questions about a law school's duty/best practice/options when a provider it uses is not wholly accessible to one or more disabled students. A technology vendor may claim that it is ADA-compliant, but we still see aspects of almost every product that are not accessible to severely visually impaired students. Does it matter that the database or study aid is not required by a professor, only recommended, if other students have access to it? What are the effective steps a law school can take with a vendor, and what is the law school obliged to do? Our panel will address these issues and share the latest in technology.

Panel: Kenneth Hirsh, Director, Law Library and Information Technology, University of Cincinnati College of Law (moderator); John Gilroy, Director of Business Developers, SolutionsDevelopers, Computer Guy (WAMU-FM); and Gary Norman, Master of Laws student, American University Washington College of Law

3:00 pm Break
3:15 pm

Law Students with Invisible Disabilities: How Students with Autism Spectrum Disorders, Psychiatric Disabilities, and Learning Disabilities Navigate Legal Education
This panel discusses some of the more challenging populations of law students with disabilities. Accommodations will be discussed based on the new regulations and panelists will review some cases. Emphasis will be given to discussing students on the autism spectrum and students with psychiatric disabilities.

Panel: Jane Thierfeld Brown, Director of Student Services, University of Connecticut School of Law (moderator); Salome Heyward, Principal, Salome Heyward & Associates; and Christy Willis, Director, Office of Disability Support Services, The George Washington University

4:45 pm

Research Project: Bar Examination Accommodations for ADHD Graduates
Some law students applying for ADHD accommodations on the bar exam are unfairly disadvantaged by the common state bar agency requirement to provide a childhood history of ADHD, as many are not diagnosed until adulthood, and others do not have a sufficient record of childhood history. The well-recognized need to diversify the legal profession lends importance to this issue, as the students disadvantaged by this requirement are more likely to be those generally underrepresented in the profession. Learn more and offer feedback to colleagues conducting research in this area.

Panel: Neha Sampat, Associate Dean for Student Services, Golden Gate University School of Law; and Esme Grant, Disability Service Coordinator, Golden Gate University School of Law

Please register by going to
Registration is $25

For further information, please contact: Office of Special Events & Continuing Legal Education,
American University Washington College of Law.
Phone: 202-274-4075; Fax: 202-274-4079; or

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