In celebration of our 15th Anniversary, the DLPP hosted two events during the College of Law’s 2020 Law Alumni Weekend.
DLPP Alumni Panel
On Friday, September 25, DLPP hosted a panel entitled “A Retrospective Look at the ADA and the DLPP,” and welcomed back many esteemed DLPP alumni to participate. Panelist Carla Villareal Lopez (LLM ’17) who recalled fondly the Syracuse DLPP community that embraced people of all backgrounds as beloved members said of the program “I cannot be happier for the opportunity… I had access to very high- quality courses related to disability rights… .” Other panelists at the event included Julie Morse ’05, Jennifer Conrad Wolfsheimer ’06, Daniel Van Sant ’16, Koert Wehberg ’08, and Robert Borelle ’14.
Our panelists called on their work experience to reflect upon the role of the law within the disability rights movement both nationally and internationally, and to put forward what they view as some of the most pressing issues for practitioners of disability law to address in the near future. Among these concerns were: resegregation of classrooms throughout education, addressing poverty in multiply marginalized communities, the continuing implementation (or lack thereof) of ADA transition plans, and police brutality in responding to calls on citizens with mental illnesses and autism.
Panelists also took time to proffer advice to current and prospective DLPP students, stressing the need for students to remain trauma-informed when interacting with clients and to continually educate themselves on manifestations of disability, as well as trauma related to being disabled in a normative society, to properly prepare to efficiently defend and work with disabled clients.
On the heels of our successful alumni panel was the DLPP reunion, held on Saturday, September 26, which featured reflection upon where we’ve been, an explanation of where we are, and predictions of where we are going. Giving updates on the DLPP, Professor Kanter happily recounted our history and announced the creation of a Ph.D. program and for the Disability Rights Clinic Professor Michael Schwartz and current clinic Student Attorney Molly Graham, explained the initiatives upon which students are presently working. For students and alumni, Disability Law Society President Mercedees Rees gave this year’s Executive Board’s plans for the organization and announced its new affiliation as a member of the National Disabled Law Students Association, while alumni Daniel Van Sant ’16 discussed the creation of a DLPP Alumni Society and spoke regarding plans for a mentorship program between alumni and current DLPP students.
At the reunion, current and prospective DLPP students were able to mingle with alumni who happily shared their experiences in the program as well as post-law school. Feelings of community and collaboration mixed with excitement to create a successful morning of networking and reconnection the College of Law’s disability law community.