June 1, 2012

What Every Lawyer Should Know About Clients with Disabilities

By Martin M. Shenkman, Orlando Lucero, and Richard W. Nenno

Diversity and Disability

When discussing the concept of diversity we all have our own sensitivities and perspectives. The definitions of what constitutes diversity, as well as the views on how diversity should be encouraged, and for what purposes, are subject to myriad opinions. It is this breadth itself that makes the goal of diversity so challenging, yet so rewarding. But diversity is not only a goal for the composition of a firm’s staff. It also should be a goal for the composition of your practice and client base. That is not only good humanity but also good business.

At the Washington, D.C., 2011 Spring Symposia of the ABA Section of Real Property, Trusts and Estate Law (“RPTE”), an RPTE Diversity Committee panel discussed the myriad ways practitioners can accommodate clients with a wide array of disabilities. The bottom line advice was so simple that it is remarkable that it is not more uniformly practiced:

Every client with a disability has his or her own unique needs, many of which won’t be obvious. Ask directly and specifically what you can do to make your interactions easier and more productive. The accommodations are often negligible for the attorney, but tremendously helpful to the client.

It was clear from the panel that this simple formula is not widely used.

Premium Content For:
  • Senior Lawyers Division
Join - Now