Disability Cause Lawyers

Michael Evan Waterstone

Loyola Law School Los Angeles

Michael 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: 61

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Date posted: August 20, 2011 ; Last revised: October 8, 2013

Suggested Citation

Waterstone, Michael Evan and Stein, Michael and Wilkins, David B., Disability Cause Lawyers (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. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1912988

Contact Information

Michael Evan Waterstone (Contact Author)
Loyola Law School Los Angeles ( email )
919 Albany Street
Los Angeles, CA 90015-1211
United States
Michael Ashley Stein
William & Mary Law School ( email )
South Henry Street
P.O. Box 8795
Williamsburg, VA 23187-8795
United States
(757) 221-3762 (Phone)
Harvard Law School ( email )
1563 Massachussetts Avenue
Pound Hall 423
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States
617-495-1726 (Phone)
David B. Wilkins
Harvard Law School - Program on the Legal Profession ( email )
23 Everett Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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