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Disability Law Student 2L Matthew Yanez Featured by Syracuse Stories

Posted on Tuesday 11/30/2021
2L Matthew Yanez

Matthew Yanez L’23 has seen the justice system at work firsthand. Growing up in California, Yanez had an uncle who was incarcerated at the Twin Towers Correctional Facility in Los Angeles. He and his father would visit his uncle on Saturday mornings, and that glimpse into the justice system sparked his interest in a career in law.

Yanez is a dual degree student in the College of Law, focusing on disability law and policy, and the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, where he’s studying public administration. He’s certain the two degrees will advance him toward his career goals of working for the federal government in the Department of Justice to advocate for people with disabilities.

Yanez has already gotten some great experience under his belt—last summer he interned for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia, where he reviewed settlement agreements enforcing the Americans with Disabilities Act, drafted motions for civil litigation and put together a summary of Supreme Court cases involving disability rights. This exposure to his desired career path led him to join the Disability Rights Clinic at the College of Law so that he could continue working on amplifying disabled the voices of those with disabilities in the Syracuse community. The Disability Law and Policy Program at the College of Law, directed by Professor Arlene Kanter, has given Yanez the guidance needed to pursue his dreams of becoming a civil rights attorney.

His passion for disability rights—as well as his prior policy experiences with the Arc of the United States, the Coelho Center for Disability Law, Policy and Innovation at Loyola Law School and the American Association of People with Disabilities—led to an invitation to join a round-table discussion at the White House with other advocates and Vice President Kamala Harris. “It was a very humbling opportunity to be able to advocate for the needs of my community,” Yanez says. He had written detailed notes of the points he wanted to make about how recent voting restrictions will affect voters with disabilities and says the vice president was eager to discuss the role the White House can play in this fight …

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