UConn Law And Disability Rights Group Establish Legal Clinic

By Christine DeRosa | September 14, 2022, 1:49 PM EDT ·

The University of Connecticut School of Law has partnered with Disability Rights Connecticut to offer a clinic that provides legal advocacy for people with disabilities.

The partnership will give law students in the Disability Rights Clinic the opportunity to help clients with legal issues including housing, employment, education and health care while under the supervision of Deborah Dorfman, executive director of Disability Rights Connecticut, and other lawyers on the agency's staff, the university said in a press release.

Disability Rights Connecticut is a nonprofit organization that provides legal advocacy and rights protection to people with disabilities, including assisting them with issues such as abuse, neglect, discrimination and access to assistive technology, the organization's website states.

"We are training the students in special education law and they are already starting to work with our new free statewide Education Rights Clinic to advocate for the rights of primary and secondary school students with disabilities," Dorfman told Law360 Pulse on Tuesday.

Four students have enrolled in the clinic this semester, according to the university. Students will receive hands-on training in skills required to advocate for and represent clients, while also taking a weekly seminar taught by Dorfman.

Dean Eboni S. Nelson said the program will allow students to share in the work being done by the organization while learning about an important aspect of law.

Jessica Rubin, the new associate dean for experiential education, echoed Nelson, adding there is a great need to close the access-to-justice gap in disability rights, in Connecticut and elsewhere.

"UConn Law has been actively looking for more ways to contribute in this area while training our students, and we are grateful to find that opportunity with Disability Rights Connecticut," Rubin told Law360 Pulse.

The clinic is beneficial not only to the students, but to Disability Rights Connecticut and its clients as well, allowing the organization to expand its current advocacy capacity, Dorfman said.

Plans are to have the clinic every fall semester, according to Rubin, and it is currently offered in the evening session to accommodate students. The clinic also satisfies the school's practice-based learning requirement.

With the addition of the clinic, UConn offers six partnerships and five in-house clinics, as well as six field placement programs, the school says.

--Editing by Robert Rudinger.

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