Postgraduate studies in disability law and policy
- Disability Law and Policy Program (DLPP)
- Syracuse University, College of Law
- Country of Implementation
- United States of America
- North America
- Syracuse Uni/NY State
- Start Year
- First published
“The DLPP has enriched my personal life and my career in disability rights.” Carla Jeanette Villarreal Lopez, LLM, Class of 2018
Syracuse University, based in the US state of New York, established the Disability Law and Policy Program (DLPP) at its College of Law in order to recruit more students – with and without disabilities – to specialize in disability law. The courses at the College of Law include (US) Disability Law, International Human Rights, and Comparative Disability Law, among others. DLPP students may also work as interns during the summer or full-time for a semester at disability law-related offices.
There are few opportunities for students with disabilities to attend law school in the United States, and disability law is not often considered an established field of law.
Solution, Innovation and Impact
The DLPP recruits students with and without disabilities from the United States and abroad, offering them the opportunity to specialize in the field of international and domestic disability law through coursework, curricular and extracurricular activities, and internships. Students have the option of pursuing a J.D. (Juris Doctor, a post-graduate law degree), a LL.M (Master in Laws) and a joint degree J.D./M.S. (Master’s degree) in Law and Disability Studies, as well as a curricular programme in Disability Law and Policy, and to seek admission to practice law in the U.S. A range of accessibility features such as captioning, sign language, text-to-speech software, etc. facilitates inclusion of students with various disabilities. Through courses and externships, students gain experience representing clients and engaging in advocacy for policies, practices, and procedures that benefit persons with disabilities. Starting in 2005 with just two students from the United States, the DLPP has since then enrolled more than 600 students from 15 countries.
Funding, Outlook and Transferability
The primary source of funding is student tuition, as well as grants and alumni donations. Many students are scholarship recipients or participants in a Fellowship Program developed with the Open Society Foundation as a funding partner. The DLPP is an easily replicable model, as any law school can take steps to include disability law in their curriculum and to increase enrolment of students with disabilities. The DLPP faculty plans to increase the enrolment of students with disabilities, expand the programme offerings to include more internships, and offer more opportunities to study abroad. In addition, the DLPP is seeking approval to begin a S.J.D. programme (Doctor of Juridical Science, equivalent to a PhD in law) to increase the number of law professors with disabilities and with expertise in disability law both in the United States and internationally.
THE STORY OF CARLA VILLARREAL, A BENEFICIARY OF THE DLPP AT SYRACUSE UNIVERSITY COLLEGE OF LAW
“I grow as a researcher and rights advocate.”
I was working as a human rights lawyer at the Peruvian Ombudsman’s Office when I received the Open Society Foundation’s Disability Rights Scholarship to study the LL.M. at Syracuse University College of Law from 2016 to 2017. I joined the Disability Law and Policy Program (DLPP) thanks to Professor Arlene Kanter, who led the programme and was my faculty advisor. My experience as a beneficiary of the DLPP has enriched my personal life and my career in disability rights, allowing me to grow as a researcher and human rights advocate. The courses on the framework of the DLPP helped me to foster critical thinking and the ability to analyse complex legal issues, as well as to improve my research and writing skills. I co-authored, with Professor Kanter, an article on violence against women and girls with disabilities that was published. Furthermore, as a DLPP beneficiary I could be engaged in different extracurricular opportunities, including the Disability Law Society, research assistantships, academic visits, and international events. In addition, I was able to get an internship in Washington, DC, with Women Enabled International, where I worked on the intersection of women’s and disability rights.