Angeli Rios will soon be graduating from the University of Maryland’s Francis King Carey School of Law. She discovered her passion for the law while an undergraduate student at St. Mary’s College of Maryland, where she received her degree in Mathematics and minored in Neuroscience and Political Science. There she took several courses on the law and judicial system and went on to intern for the Honorable James A. Kenney, III at the Maryland Court of Special Appeals.
Shortly before attending law school, Rios was diagnosed with a chronic neuromuscular disorder as well as ADHD. She quickly learned that navigating the accommodations process could be difficult. It took some trial and error to figure out which accommodations would work for her. Rios’s law school was supportive during this process. The school also hosted a number of disability awareness events. “It really means a lot to me that my school places priority on disability awareness and disability inclusion initiatives.”
Rios found law school to have some challenges unique to her disabilities. She takes more time to process information and needs to navigate through flare-ups of her neuromuscular disorder. With these challenges, she developed determination and a stronger sense of purpose towards succeeding at whatever project she put her mind towards. Managing her health and academics is a delicate balance of time management and perseverance.
Rios considers her position as President of the National Association of Law Students with Disabilities (NALSWD) to be one of her most significant accomplishments. It has provided her with an opportunity to mentor and support other law students with disabilities. She has also interned for the Honorable Toni E. Clarke at Prince George’s County Circuit Court in Maryland. As part of her law school’s mediation clinic Rios has mediated several cases pending at the Baltimore City District Course. She is also the co-creator, co-coordinator, and a mediator for the Barstow Elementary Student Mediation Program, which provides mediation services for elementary students to resolve interpersonal conflicts between the students in a voluntary, neutral and confidential process. She also currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Barstow Acres Children’s Center, a treatment center that provides mental health services as well as developmental and enrichment programs for at-risk children, adults, and families. After law school, Rios plans to practice in child advocacy and disability law, with a concentration on children’s mental health.
When asked to provide some advice to other people with disabilities entering law school or the legal profession, Rios encourages students to be self-advocates for the resources and accommodations necessary to perform their best. “If you have a passion to practice law, be persistent. Don’t be quick to give up on a legal career solely because of your disability.” She also reminds law students and lawyers with disabilities that they shouldn’t feel pressured or obligated to practice disability law. They should follow their own interests because there are many ways to help the cause of disability rights beyond practicing disability law specifically.