Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Wall of Shame V: The National Conference of Bar Examiners Trying to Screw the Blind!

Lucky her.  Leave it to lawyers to try to screw over a law grad with disabilities by trying to deny her the necessary software to take the exam, as required as a reasonable accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act.  This story is so telling; it's apparent that the Legal Industry thinks it's above the law.  Anyways... she won. She gets to take the bar.  Then what?

This reminds me of a student that I once had as an adjunct professor.  I used to teach Legal Research and Writing in a Community College Paralegal Program.  The best student in the class by leaps and bounds was a blind guy.  Let's call him Howie.

When Howie started the program he could see as well as you or I.  But he was diabetic, and he didn't take care of his condition.  He would eat candy bars non-stop, thinking he was invincible.  So, at some point at the end of his first year (it's a two year program), he had an "attack." I'm not sure the name of it, but it was something like a stroke that left him blind and stuttering.  He was still brilliant though.  Even though he had a horrible stutter, he would contribute in class and, eventually, get his point across.  And we would take field trips to the local law school's library, and he had a seeing eye person that would help him with his research.

It struck me how the legal world was the last holdout in publishing books in braille.  Not one of the states published in braille.  Not one!  But Howie did his best.

My final exam was actually my moot court brief.  Yep, I had my paras write the moot court brief.  It was a challenging final, but they rose to the occasion.  My thought process was that it would be a plus if they could write like lawyers, and write like lawyers they!   Howie, using a voice recognition program, managed to put together a 45 page appellate brief.  His citations were nearly perfect and his use of the law was flawless.  I was very proud of him and, if he didn't get the best grade, he certainly got something close to that.

But what bothered me to the end, and even today, was his job prospects--or lack thereof.  I have had enough experience with attorneys to know that he would be discriminated against because the cost of accommodating him would be too high for a solo.  And BigLaw doesn't typically recruit from the ranks of a mere paralegal program.  Instead, they tend to recruit undergrads from Harvard, Columbia, Yale and Duke.  So, that leaves him with trying to find a job with solos and mid-sized firms.

Are lawyers to good to adhere to the standards placed by the ADA?  Well, considering that the National Conference of Bar Examiners tried to break this law--I can only say yes.  Or at least they think so.  And what will this blind lawyer do?  I hope she succeeds and that she will find a job wherein following the law is a non-issue.  Maybe she will help Americans with Disabilities in their struggles, being able to cite her own struggle against Lawyers--of all people.

Anyway, for that the National Conference of Bar Examiners deserves to be on the Wall of Shame.


  1. This reminds me of the recent story about a woman with quadriplegia who had to get the California Supreme Court to intervene so that the bar examiners there would let her take the exam. She passed: http://www.calbar.ca.gov/state/calbar/calbar_cbj.jsp?sCategoryPath=/Home/Attorney%20Resources/California%20Bar%20Journal/December2009&sCatHtmlPath=cbj/2009-12_TH_07_disabledwomanpassesexam.html&sCatHtmlTitle=Top%20Headlines.

  2. Awww... Jadz, You're preggo? Congrats!

    I wonder why they want everyone in the world to become a lawyer to lower the costs of hiring lawyers--but don't want the Handicapped. I'm thinking that diry court running and doc review is hard for people with disabilities. Therefore, the Bar Examiners are trying to keep them out of the market.
    That is our future, btw. Dirty court running or doc review. Pick your poison.



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