A room full of students listened to Professor Mark Weber speak about his rich and varied experience with the field of disability law. The discussion was part of the monthly panel series organized by the Center for Public Interest Law (CPIL). Professor Weber is one of the national experts on disability law and has written the only textbook on the subject. He began his work in the field through a clinical program in law school that allowed him to represent patients in a mental hospital. He then worked as a staff attorney at the Legal Assistance Foundation of Metropolitan Chicago, where he represented parents of children with disabilities.
Students learned about the many issues affecting those with disabilities, particularly the watering down of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Professor Weber described how people with disabilities face discrimination from landlords and other building owners who fail to provide reasonable accommodations, as the ADA requires. Students provided a lively discussion during the question-and-answer period, asking about various issues, such as special needs students being violently restrained in the classroom by teachers. In some cases, special needs students have died from being restrained so aggressively. Professor Weber mentioned that H.R. 4247 "Keep All Students Safe Act" would address this issue and hopefully provide a working solution.
Finally, Professor Weber spoke about the various public interest job positions within disability law. Most practitioners start, as he did, within an organization like the Legal Assistance Foundation or the Public Guardian's Office. Other public interest organizations include Equip for Equality, the American Civil Liberties Union, and the Attorney General's Office within their Disabilities Rights Division. Many students at the event showed interest in the field. Hopefully, the economy will recover enough so that more jobs will be available to them when they graduate.