Disability Cause Lawyers
Michael Evan Waterstone
Loyola Law School Los Angeles
Michael Ashley Stein
William & Mary Law School; Harvard Law School
David B. Wilkins
Harvard Law School - Program on the Legal Profession
August 19, 2011
William & Mary Law Review, Vol. 53, 2011
Loyola-LA Legal Studies Paper No. 2011-26
Harvard Public Law Working Paper No. 11-17
There is vast and growing cause lawyering literature demonstrating how attorneys and their relationship to social justice movements matter greatly for law’s ability to engender progress. But to date, there has been no examination of the work of ADA disability cause lawyers as cause lawyers. Similarly, despite an extensive literature focused on the ADA’s revolutionary civil rights aspects and the manner in which the Supreme Court’s interpretation has stymied potential transformation of American society, no academic accounts of disability law have focused on the lawyers who bring these disability civil rights cases.
This Article responds to these scholarly voids. We conducted in-depth interviews with many of the nation’s leading disability rights cause lawyers. What we found makes three novel contributions. As the first examination of the activities of these public interest lawyers and their advocacy, it brings to light a neglected sector of an otherwise well-examined field. In doing so, this Article complements but also complicates the cause lawyering literature by presenting a vibrant and successful cohort of social movement lawyers who in some ways emulate their peers, and in other ways have a unique perspective and mode of operation. The Article also forces a re-consideration of academic critiques of the efficacy and transformative potential of the ADA, because it demonstrates how disability cause lawyers have effectively utilized the statute to achieve social integration in the shadow of the Court’s restrictive jurisprudence.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 61Accepted Paper Series
Date posted: August 20, 2011 ; Last revised: October 8, 2013
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