May 01, 2014

March 2013: Matt Nelson


Student Works to Show Capabilities of Law Students with Disabilities

Matt Nelson has some advice for legal employers: “Don’t lower expectations just because someone has a disability.” Their only concern, according to Nelson, should be whether a person can do the job.  Nelson’s disability motivates him to work harder so he can demonstrate the capabilities of law students with disabilities.

Nelson, who has cerebral palsy, is working on dual J.D./M.B.A. degrees from the University of Alabama. There, he serves on its Student Bar Elections Committee and is a member of the Bench and Bar Honor Society, as well as participates in volunteer, extracurricular, and scholarship activities. Outside of school, he coordinates special projects for United Cerebral Palsy of Greater Birmingham. “From my community involvement, I learned the importance of serving others.” 

Nelson credits a retired circuit court judge with inspiring him to enter the legal profession. “Judge Gary Pate allowed me to see what it meant to be a practicing lawyer, what commitment was involved, and what the personal satisfaction was of helping people.” Nelson looks forward to eventually serving as a mentor.

Nelson attributes his ability to identify and solve problems to his disability. And, his experience with a variety of people with disabilities has taught him how to be a better listener and communicator. All of these skills will serve his future clients. “I learned things like writing in larger print for clients with low vision and augmentative communication devices for persons with speech and language impairments.” Nelson wants to leave readers with a final thought: “No one person with a disability represents everyone with a disability; each is unique.”