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Disability Rights Clinic
Office of Clinical Programs
Syracuse University College of Law
306 MacNaughton Hall

Associate Professor Michael A. Schwartz, Director
maschw01@law.syr.edu
(315) 443-4582

SU COL Professor Michael Schwartz with DRC studentsThe Disability Rights Clinic is dedicated to providing representation to individuals with disabilities and groups representing the disabled community who are unable to secure representation elsewhere. The clinic seeks to represent those who cannot afford private counsel. DRC student attorneys practice in federal and state courts, and before administrative agencies in a broad range of disability matters, including employment discrimination, access to local and state government services and programs, access to private businesses open to the public, and special education on behalf of families of children with disabilities.

The Disability Rights Clinic (DRC) is a clinic within the Office of Clinical Programs of the Syracuse University College of Law, dedicated to providing representation to individuals and groups in Central New York who are unable to secure representation elsewhere. Since the 1980s 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, prisoner’s rights, immigration, and employment matters.

In 2004, Associate Professor Michael Schwartz was hired to direct the DRC. As an expert in disability rights law, particularly the rights of people who are deaf, Professor Schwartz has the DRC focusing its litigation and advocacy efforts on the rights of children and adults with disabilities in Syracuse and surrounding communities. The 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, the 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. The 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.

Many DRC clients are unable to find lawyers to represent them due to their lack of financial resources. Also, there are few lawyers and law firms that accommodate clients with disabilities, including those who rely on auxiliary aids to access the lawyer’s office and services. The DRC aims to reach and serve this under-represented segment of our community.