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Diversity and Inclusion: Committing to Disability Inclusion in the Legal Profession

Level: Advanced
Runtime: 94 minutes
Recorded Date: January 08, 2021
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  • Recruitment, retention and advancement strategies including reasonable accommodations
  • Importance of Affinity Groups
  • Accessibility, accommodations and inclusive technology
  • Mental Health in the Legal Profession
  • Q & A
Runtime: 1 hour, 34 minutes
Recorded: January 8, 2021


As statistics have suggested, many law firms haven’t considered the benefits of recruiting, retaining, and advancing attorneys with disabilities. Lawyers with disabilities remain vastly underreported, with only about one half of one percent of all lawyers in large law firms being reported as having a disability (NALP, 2019). Additionally, many attorneys are uncomfortable disclosing their impairments due to the stigma that surrounds disabilities.

This seminar will focus on the unique challenges attorney’s with disabilities face and strategies to improve diversity in the legal profession.

This program was recorded on January 8th, 2021.

Provided By

American Bar Association
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Kathleen D. Narko

Clinical Professor of Law
Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law

Professor Narko teaches Communication and Legal Reasoning. Her focus is teaching legal analysis through the vehicle of writing. She is a frequent presenter at national and regional Legal Writing Institute conferences, and has written and spoken on a variety of topics related to communication and legal analysis.

Her research interests include collaboration and learning theory and integration of analytical communication in law practice. Professor Narko received her J.D. from Cornell Law School and her B.A. in history, cum laude, from Yale University. Following her undergraduate degree, she attended Salzburg College in Salzburg, Austria.

Prior to joining the faculty, Kathleen Dillon Narko practiced with a large law firm concentrating in the areas of commercial litigation and environmental, safety and health law. She was a member of the firm's Hiring Committee for seven years.

Professor Narko worked extensively with corporate clients in all aspects of litigation, including trials and appeals. She was also active in pro bono litigation, including lending discrimination and political asylum matters. She currently consults with law firms, providing training in legal writing. Professor Narko served as a Hearing Officer for the State of Illinois. She conducted hearings and issued several published decisions in the area of special education law.

Professor Narko maintains an active involvement with the practicing bar. She is a prominent member of the Chicago Bar Association, where she currently serves on the Editorial Board of the CBA Record. She authors a regular column on legal writing, Nota Bene, which is widely used by both attorneys and law professors. For several years she has presented a program on Advanced Legal Writing to sold-out audiences of practicing attorneys. She is a past member of the CBA Board of Managers, a current member of the Membership Committee, and a recipient of the David Hilliard Award for Outstanding Committee Service. She serves on the Board of Advisors of Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Chicago, where she is a member of the Legal Advisory Committee. In addition, she is a member of the Leadership Council of the National Immigrant Justice Center.

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Howard A. Rosenblum

National Association of the Deaf

Howard started as the Chief Executive Officer of the NAD in April 2011 and also serves as an ex officio member of the NAD Board of Directors. He comes to the NAD after 22 years as a lawyer, focusing his practice on disability rights and special education law. For nine years, he was a Senior Attorney at Equip for Equality, the Protection & Advocacy entity for Illinois. The previous 10 years, he worked as an associate at Monahan & Cohen, and briefly as a legal counsel at Access Living, the center for independent living in Chicago. In 1997, he founded the Midwest Center on Law and the Deaf, and served as Board Chair until 2011. In 2010 and again in 2014, President Barack Obama appointed Howard to serve on the United States Access Board. Howard has a Bachelor of Science degree in computer engineering from the University of Arizona and a Juris Doctor degree from the Illinois Institute of Technology Chicago-Kent College of Law. Born and raised in Chicago, he is a diehard fan of Chicago sports teams. Howard also enjoys traveling the world to meet deaf people in other countries and learning their sign languages.

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Luke E. Debevec

Reed Smith, LLP

Luke joined Reed Smith in January 2008 and is a member of the firm's Insurance Recovery Group. Luke handles insurance and captive reinsurance coverage cases and arbitrations from inception through resolution across the country and internationally.

Luke has won significant insurance matters through litigation and arbitration and on appeal, but frequently resolves his clients' problems without need for these mechanisms. Luke has argued before the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court and various state and federal trial courts. In 2012, Luke played a lead role in presenting and cross-examining witnesses at a $100+ million international arbitration involving property damage and business interruption loss resulting from an export grain elevator explosion covered by property insurance and captive reinsurance. In 2016, Luke helped lead a team of attorneys through a London Arbitration involving coverage for the costs of a massive inland oil release and interpretation of a "Time Element" Pollution Endorsement. Luke has helped policyholders and their captives to recover hundreds of millions of dollars from their insurance and reinsurance companies.

Luke frequently counsels policyholders and captives concerning their insurance programs and policy wording, risk management for corporate transactions, claims analysis, and strategies for maximizing loss recoveries.

Luke is a co-founder and board member of LEADRS (Looking For Excellence and Advancement of Disabled individuals at Reed Smith), a business inclusion group supporting attorneys and employees with disabilities and mental and physical health conditions of all types.

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Rachel Weisberg

Staff Attorney
Equip for Equality

Rachel Weisberg is a Staff Attorney at Equip for Equality where she litigates individual and systemic disability discrimination cases under Titles I, II and III of the ADA. Rachel also manages the Illinois ADA Project which provides ADA information and trainings to businesses, judges, attorneys, service providers, people with disabilities, government agencies, and other organizations.

Prior to Equip for Equality, Rachel worked as an Assistant Attorney General in the Civil Rights Bureau and Disability Rights Bureau of the Illinois Attorney General's Office, a labor and employment associate at Sidley Austin LLP, and a law clerk for Chief Judge James G. Carr in the Northern District of Ohio.

Before law school, Rachel worked as an ADA technical assistance specialist at the Mid-Atlantic ADA Center, and during law school interned with the Disability Rights Section of the U.S. Department of Justice. She is a 2008 graduate of Northwestern University School of Law, and a 2003 graduate of the University of Michigan.

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Gary C. Norman

Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS)

Whether as a lawyer, or as a mediator, or as a trusted colleague, you will find Gary C. Norman, Esq. L.L.M. a valuable resource in terms of what it means to be a dynamic citizen lawyer first and also a leader with a disability whose disability amplifies his unique opportunities but does not cap them. He started his public service career as a Presidential Management Fellow. He remains committed to building a legacy of public service, including, through his first state-wide appointment, the Maryland Commission on Civil Rights. As such, Gary has a skill set and a personal desire to build his legacy as a public policy leader in brokering others together for more informed, non-partisan, public policy dialogue and development.

Gary has a range of public policy interests, including, but not limited to, the intersection of healthcare and civil rights.

Gary is often found with Pilot at a bistro with his wonderful wife or with Pilot at a coffee house reading his volumes and drinking caf?, if not meeting on animal law and policy or disability law and policy. This notes that one of Gary and Pilot's proudest moments was, in October, 2013, when the brothers of Mount Moriah Number 116 pinned Pilot as the first honorary Master Mason guide dog of Maryland.

He has been proud to speak to numerous groups, and has been honored to be a leader in civil rights dialogue in a range of venues, including, in 2015, when he was honored to be a Visiting Fellow at the Robert J. Dole Institute for Politics.

An attorney, a mediator, and a consultant, he served, in 2012, as a Fellow at the American Arbitration Association. In 2009, he received Ten Outstanding Young Americans by the Jaycees of the United States. In 2008, he traveled as a Marshall Memorial Fellow to the European Union.

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