It goes without saying that countless people with disabilities have gone to law school and had successful, productive careers as attorneys. While disability discrimination is certainly a problem for some people, there is no reason many people with disabilities would be unable to perform as lawyers.
To get into an accredited law school, however, you have to take the Law School Admission Test, or LSAT. What happens if discrimination keeps you from taking the test?
This spring, a federal class-action disability discrimination lawsuit was filed against the Law School Admission Council, which administers the LSAT, claiming that the organization routinely refuses proper requests for reasonable disability accommodation. On Wednesday, the Department of Justice's Civil Rights Division asked to join that case and throw its weight behind the plaintiffs' claims.
About 130,000 people took the LSAT in the 2011-2012 season. According to the lawsuit, which is not the first of its kind against the Law School Admission Council, the organization is in the habit of denying accommodation requests, even when applicants submit all the proper documentation and had a history of being granted testing accommodations by other organizations.
The Justice Department highlighted one case of a woman with severe vision issues who wanted to take the LSAT. She had been given testing accommodations for her disability, like large-print test books and a minimal amount of extra time she requested for the LSAT, since she was in kindergarten. The Law School Admission Council denied almost all of her requests.
On top of denying perfectly reasonable, customary disability accommodations, the Justice Department alleges, the organization has also been flagging the test scores of those who did obtain accommodations -- and sending that information to law schools. In other words, the Law School Admissions Council has apparently been flagging applicants with disabilities for law school admissions offices.
So, even though it might be illegal for a law school to ask applicants to list their disability status on their applications, the Law School Admissions Council allegedly made sure that law schools got that information anyway.
The lawsuit alleges violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act and seeks damages for the victims, along with an unspecified amount in civil penalties. The Law School Admissions Council has declined to comment.
Source: The Wall Street Journal's Law Blog, "Justice Dept Backs Disabilities Lawsuit against LSAC," Joe Palazzolo, Sep. 6, 2012
Our law firm represents people with disabilities who are facing discrimination at work. For more information, see the Employment Discrimination page on our website.