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October 01, 2011

October/November 2011: Tim Fox, Esq.

Law firm founder with quadriplegia knows the importance of the disability community.

Tim Fox, Esq. knows how the importance of the disability community. Beginning with his rugby injury in 1986, he relied on, and learned from, other persons with disabilities. Currently, he represents, strategizes and co-counsels with the members of the disability community, which has played an important part in his role as a co-owner of a successful disability rights law firm, Fox & Robertson, PC.

Tim was injured while playing rugby in college and has C4-5 quadriplegia. Initially, he intended to go into business and finance, and had a job offer with a prominent Denver business. After his injury, that offer was withdrawn. Tim decided to pursue a legal career after talking with several lawyers with disabilities. During his time at Stanford Law School, Tim had a summer internship at a Los Angeles firm. “Like most of those internships, partners would wine and dine the interns. After a few weeks, I noticed that other summer associates were regularly asked to lunch and other events, and I was not. I said something and the partners instructed a secretary to ask me to lunch. I did not have a single lunch with a partner until my last day, when I was told that I should have been more ‘outgoing.’” From then on, he made it a point to look for law firms that did not seem intimidated by his wheelchair, and to work with members of the disability community both as co-counsel and, for example, to bring access cases on a pro bono basis. In the office he uses a raised desk, mouth stick, and computer dictation software as accommodations.

His honors include the 2009 Colorado Bar Association Award of Merit, the 2007 Impact Fund Award (with his wife and law firm partner, Amy Robertson), and the 2006 Colorado Trial Lawyers Association Case of the Year (with Amy Robertson).

The 2006 case of the year was Lucas v. K-Mart Corp., a class action lawsuit that improved accessibility for over 1,400 K-Mart stores nation wide and resulted in a $16.25 million settlement. “This was certainly the most rewarding case for me,” Tim reflected, “We got to work with several prominent disability rights lawyers and organizations, and I found the collaboration and exchange of ideas to be incredibly energizing. For those with disabilities, the settlement set a new precedent for how much a class action of this nature could receive, putting companies in violation of laws like the Americans with Disabilities Act on notice. For me, it provided the experience of managing a large class action.”

Tim also points to disability rights e-mail lists as an extremely important method for disability rights practitioners to be able to brainstorm, strategize and lend support to each other. “This is an exciting and challenging time for the disability community, and I feel so privileged to be a member of that community.”