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Beyond the ADA: How Clinics Can Assist Law Students with 'Non-Visible' Disabilities to Bridge the Accommodations Gap Between Classroom and Practice

55 Pages Posted: 16 Apr 2008 Last revised: 10 Dec 2012

Alexis Anderson

Boston College - Law School

Norah Wylie

Boston College - Law School

Date Written: March 1, 2012

Abstract

This article examines how best to educate law students with disabilities so that they can successfully transition from classroom to practice. At the very time that the importance of experiential learning is being trumpeted as critical to the preparation of all law students for practice, all too little attention has been given to the role of clinical education in helping students with non-visible disabilities succeed in their chosen careers. Increasingly, law students are seeking accommodations for a range of mental health, cognitive, and learning disabilities. Law schools have become more adept at providing accommodations in academic classes to qualified students with documented disabilities. Note-takers, special testing and attendance rules, and access to academic support programs are common features of most law schools' disability law protocols. But, how best can we help prepare these students for the demands of practice?

Until now, law faculty have lacked guidance on this important topic. This article seeks to fill that gap by studying how law school clinics and accommodations officers can assist students as they begin practice. First we explore the limits of protections afforded by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), after acknowledging that its employment provisions apply to clinics. We then review two case studies built on our clinical experience in an effort to develop best practices for law faculty and administration in helping these students overcome the accommodations gap between classroom and practice.

Keywords: ADA, Americans with Disabilities Act, legal education, clinical practice, clinical experience

Suggested Citation

Anderson, Alexis and Wylie, Norah, Beyond the ADA: How Clinics Can Assist Law Students with 'Non-Visible' Disabilities to Bridge the Accommodations Gap Between Classroom and Practice (March 1, 2012). Clinical Law Review, Vol. 15, No. 1. pp. 1-53, 2008; Boston College Law School Legal Studies Research Paper No. 154; NYLS Clinical Research Institute Paper No. 07/08-30. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1120976

Alexis Anderson (Contact Author)

Boston College - Law School ( email )

885 Centre Street
Newton, MA 02459-1163
United States
617-552-0952 (Phone)

Norah Wylie

Boston College - Law School ( email )

885 Centre Street
Newton, MA 02459-1163
United States

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