Civil Rights of Persons With Disabilities Clinic

Course Description

This Clinic will detail the civil rights of persons with disabilities and examine the explosive changes in the law and policy affecting their rights.

Student attorneys will have the opportunity to represent clients with disabilities in a variety of settings and work with organizations involved in broad impact litigation. The subject matter will likely include special education under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act; access to public entities and public accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Rehabilitation Act; post-secondary education and employment matters; as well as issues of consent and self-determination, statutory entitlements, and related public policy issues as individuals with disabilities seek inclusion and greater participation in society. In litigation and/or administrative advocacy matters, students enrolled in the Clinic handle cases at all stages of legal proceedings, including initial client interviews, witness interviews, drafting pleadings, counseling, negotiation, discovery, motion practice, trial, and appeal.

Student attorneys will also analyze and seek to implement broader policy and law reforms to accomplish these aims. The Clinic will also stress the roles of lawyers, advocacy organizations such as the Maryland Disability Law Center, the National Association of the Deaf Law and Advocacy Center, nonprofit organizations representing individuals with disabilities, courts, legislatures, and executive-branch agencies in promoting the rights of individuals with disabilities.

There are two components to this Clinic: a weekly class on Tuesdays (10:55am-2pm) and a supervised practicum on Fridays (9am-5pm) to discuss the ethical, practical, and theoretical aspects of representing individuals with disabilities. The classroom component will include discussion of the history of exclusion and unequal treatment of individuals with disabilities; the federal civil rights laws as a means of remedying discrimination in employment, public accommodations, government services and other spheres of life; the rights of children and young persons with disabilities to a free, appropriate public education; and other federal public policies on disability, including the prevention of homelessness for the disabled poor, rights in support of community-based living; protection from physical abuse and other harms; nondiscrimination in housing; access to advocates to enforce civil rights; and other personal rights that raise unique disability related issues. Student presentations and guest speakers will be a regular part of the classroom component. During the practicum component, students will collaborate with attorneys at the National Association of the Deaf Law and Advocacy Center.

There are no prerequisites for this Clinic, although courses in civil rights, administrative law, labor and employment law, evidence, federal courts, and civil litigation may be helpful. This clinic satisfies the Cardin Requirement.

Students who enroll in this course are required to attend Law Practice Orientation at the start of the semester.

This clinic will be taught online for the Fall semester as the National Association of the Deaf continues to operate remotely. The Spring semester may be online or in-person, depending on whether the NAD is operating remotely or in-person.

Key to Codes in Course Descriptions

P: Prerequisite
C: Prerequisite or Concurrent Requirement
R: Recommended Prior or Concurrent Course