Disabled lawyers want to be full players in the legal profession.
"What we need is to have a seat at every table, rather than all the seats at one table."
Those words spoken by Ed Lopacki, a Bradenton sole practitioner who uses a wheelchair because he has multiple sclerosis multiple sclerosis (MS), chronic, slowly progressive autoimmune disease in which the body's immune system attacks the protective myelin sheaths that surround the nerve cells of the brain and spinal cord (a process called demyelination), resulting in damaged areas , have become the mantra mantra (măn`trə, mŭn–), in Hinduism and Buddhism, mystic words used in ritual and meditation. A mantra is believed to be the sound form of reality, having the power to bring into being the reality it represents. of the Disability Independence Group, Inc.
Lawyers with disabilities don't want to feel segregated in their own little world, but want to be full players in the legal profession.
Working with more 100 Florida attorneys with disabilities, DIG's mission is to identify and remove barriers so they can practice law to their fullest potential and more fully participate in Bar activities.
As the private nonprofit A corporation or an association that conducts business for the benefit of the general public without shareholders and without a profit motive.
Nonprofits are also called not-for-profit corporations. Nonprofit corporations are created according to state law. group embarks on its third year, with support from The Florida Bar The Florida Bar is the mandatory state bar association for the state of Florida. It is the third largest such bar association in the United States. Its duties include the regulation and discipline of attorneys. Foundation's Improvements in the Administration of Justice Grant Program, it has completed its 2006 Project Report "The Disability-Diversity Initiative, a Statewide Project of Florida Lawyers with Disabilities" and Florida's first Survey on Lawyers with Disabilities (see story, page 6).
When the effort began, DIG Project Consultant Danielle Strickman said they knew about 10 lawyers with disabilities. Currently, she said, there are about 125 she communicates with regularly, who have accomplished a lot:
* Raising awareness Raising awareness is a common phrase advocacy groups use to justify a particular event, brochure or even the entire organization. Raising awareness refers to alerting the general public that a certain issue exists and should be approached the way the group desires. about persons with disabilities.
* Surveying inaccessible inaccessible Surgery adjective Unreachable; referring to a lesion that unmanageable by standard surgical techniques–eg, lesions deep in the brain or adjacent to vital structures–ie, not accessible. See Accessible. courthouses (see sidebar (1) A Windows Vista desktop panel that holds mini applications (gadgets) such as a calendar, calculator, stock ticker and Vonage phone dialer. It is the Windows counterpart to the Dashboard in the Mac. See Windows Vista and gadget. , page 7).
* Working with the Equal Opportunities Law Section on a rules change for accommodations in courthouses (see April 1 Bar News).
* Putting on an accessible CLE Cle
total elimination clearance. at last year's Bar Annual Convention (see August 1, 2006, Bar News).
* Participating in the Bar's Fourth Annual Diversity Symposium symposium
In ancient Greece, an aristocratic banquet at which men met to discuss philosophical and political issues and recite poetry. It began as a warrior feast. Rooms were designed specifically for the proceedings. with a panel discussion: "Overcoming Obstacles: Lawyers with Disabilities" (see April 30 News).
"We are most proud of engaging more than 100 lawyers with disabilities in our work. And we are most proud of the visibility that our work has been given by The Florida Bar," Strickman said, adding that 26 committee members held 32 teleconference meetings during the 2006 project year and 48 conference calls the year before.
There were "two equal greatest achievements," said Matthew Dietz, a Miami civil rights lawyer, president of the DIG board, and a member of the Florida Supreme Court Standing Committee on Fairness and Diversity.
"Through the focus groups and the survey, we were able to make The Florida Bar more aware of the importance of including its members who have disabilities and the needs of these members," Dietz said.
"In addition, we encouraged attorneys with disabilities to become more involved in The Florida Bar, thereby making the Bar more aware of the importance of including its members who have disabilities and the needs of these members. Hopefully, this cycle will continue."
An important goal that remains to be accomplished, Dietz said, is "to ensure that persons with disabilities are included in the definition of 'minority' and 'diversity.'
"Accordingly, people with disabilities will not obtain equality in society or within our profession until there is adequate representation throughout our profession. When there is adequate representation, then most will realize that a disability, in most circumstances CIRCUMSTANCES, evidence. The particulars which accompany a fact.
2. The facts proved are either possible or impossible, ordinary and probable, or extraordinary and improbable, recent or ancient; they may have happened near us, or afar off; they are public or , is not a barrier to the practice of law, to other professions, or to any aspect in our community."
For more information about DIG or to get a copy of the 2006 Progress Report, contact Danielle Strickman via e-mail at email@example.com or call her at (305) 267-3488.
By Jan Pudlow