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December 01, 2008

December 2008: Scott P. Moore, Esq.

Preemptive measures invaluable to lawyer with paraplegia.

Scott P. Moore, Esq. is very familiar with the words of Ben Franklin that “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Scott, whether weighing a situation for a client or addressing misconceptions about those with disabilities, makes sure to take preventative measures in order to come to the most beneficial outcome.

Scott has had paraplegia for the past 21 years. He is a graduate of Creighton University School of Law, and has been practicing law for the past 13 years. His first legal employer was Baird Holm LLP in Omaha, Nebraska. He then joined the U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, starting out in the Housing and Civil Enforcement Section. Five years after joining DOJ, he became Deputy Chief of the Civil Rights Division’s Employment Litigation Section. In 2003, he returned to Omaha and Baird Holm, where he is now a partner handling employment and housing disability discrimination cases.

Most of Scott’s practice consists of training, compliance and litigation. Scott makes great use the training aspect of his job, so as to later avoid litigation. For example, he trains various actors in the housing industry, such as property management companies, as to what their obligations are for those with disabilities under the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Fair Housing Act and similar local laws. Scott believes that when it comes to disability rights, housing is the most important area to focus on: “Where we live determines where we seek education, and where we are employed. It also determines where we raise our families. Therefore, in order to give those with disabilities a choice in education, employment and lifestyles, we need to make sure they have the opportunity to live wherever they want.”

By training and informing those who provide and manage housing, Scott makes sure that the needs of those with both mental and physical disabilities are addressed. He has found that while strides are being made in removing physical barriers to accessibility, the housing industry needs further exposure to those with mental disabilities. “Often, there are misconceptions about persons with mental or emotional disabilities who need a service animal,” Moore noted as an example, “housing providers must understand that in some cases a service animal to a person with a mental disability is the same as a wheelchair for a person with a physical disability."

Preemptively addressing misconceptions about those who have disabilities also has value in a broader societal sense for Scott. He believes that misunderstandings about those who have disabilities can be reduced when this population has increased interaction with those who do not have disabilities. “Exposure and transparency are great methods to keep in mind,” observed Scott, “people with disabilities should not be afraid to preemptively engage misconceptions about who they are, what they are capable of, or what they may require as an accommodation. Such early efforts will pay dividends in the end.”