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Disability Rights Clinic

Professor Michael A. Schwartz, Director

Students work as legal advocates for clients with disabilities in the community. 

Classes include employment discrimination, removal of barriers to access in government services and places of public accomodations, and special education law. Students engage in litigation, negotiation, counseling, and community outreach.

The Disability Rights Clinic, or DRC, as it is known, is a clinic of the College of Law, dedicated to providing representation to individuals and groups in our community who are unable to secure representation elsewhere. Since the 1980's when the Disability Rights Clinic was founded, its student attorneys have practiced in federal and state courts, and before administrative agencies in a broad range of civil rights matters, including race, gender, age and disability discrimination, sexual harassment, prisoners rights, immigration, accessibility under the Americans with Disabilities Act and other federal and state laws, and employment matters. 

In 2004, Assistant Professor Michael Schwartz was hired to direct DRC. As an expert in disability rights law, particularly the rights of people who are deaf, DRC has begun focusing its litigation and advocacy on the rights of children and adults with disabilities in Syracuse and surrounding communities. DRC also collaborates with other SU College of Law clinics, especially on cases involving families with children who have mental or physical disabilities. In addition, DRC engages in outreach work, educating the community about its rights and responsibilities under the law, and student attorneys are encouraged to research and present on various legal issues. DRC also plays a role in negotiation, mediation, and advocacy, which offer student attorneys a chance to acquire valuable skills that complement their ability to litigate. 

One reason DRC clients are unable to find other lawyers to represent them is because of their lack of financial resources. Another reason entails the unavailability of lawyers and law firms which accommodate clients with disabilities, including those who rely on auxiliary aids to enable them to access the lawyer’s office and services. DRC aims to reach and serve this under-represented segment of our community .