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February 11, 2021

ABA honors D.C. lawyer Marjorie L. Rifkin and Reed Smith LLP for disability work

CHICAGO, Feb. 11, 2021 — The American Bar Association Commission on Disability Rights will honor Washington lawyer Marjorie L. Rifkin and global law firm Reed Smith LLP for their work on behalf of disability rights and disability diversity and inclusion, respectively, during the ABA Virtual Midyear Meeting, Feb. 17-22.

Rifkin, of counsel at the public interest law firm Terris, Pravlik & Millian LLP, will receive the Paul G. Hearne Award for Disability Rights, co-sponsored by Starbucks Coffee Co. Reed Smith LLP will receive the Champions for Disability Inclusion in the Legal Profession Award, presented by Accenture. Both will be given at the Diversity Center Awards Presentation on Friday, Feb. 19 from 5:30-6:30 p.m. CT.

Since 1999, the Hearne Award, named for activist and disabilities rights advocate Paul G. Hearne, has been presented to an individual or an organization/group for performing exemplary service in furthering the rights, dignity and access to justice for people with disabilities.

Rifkin has devoted her 30-year legal career, including more than 20 years with Disability Rights D.C. at University Legal Services, to advocating for the rights of disabled individuals facing unconstitutional, discriminatory and unnecessary institutionalization in prisons and nursing facilities, as well as inaccessible housing, governmental services and public accommodations. For decades, she has fought so that disabled individuals can live with dignity and self-direction, and to ensure that the nation’s disabilities laws are more than theoretical safeguards. Before joining Terris, Pravlik & Millian in 2020, Rifkin also worked with the Legal Aid Society Criminal Defense Division in New York City, ACLU National Prison Project, and the National Council on Disability and the Open Society Institute in Baltimore.

The Champions for Disability Inclusion in the Legal Profession Award recognizes a law firm or corporation that has made measurable progress in the recruitment, hiring, retention and advancement to leadership positions of lawyers with disabilities.

Reed Smith has shown commitment to, and leadership in, supporting and enhancing the professional, personal and career development of people with all types of disabilities both at the firm and within the legal profession. With its disability affinity group, LEADRS, along with the firm’s Mental Health Task Force and Wellness Works program, Reed Smith makes disability inclusion a core component of its diversity and inclusion programs. The firm held its inaugural Global Disability Inclusion Summit in December 2020, and forged partnerships with other organizations, including participation in Barclay’s Think Talent program for prospective lawyers who are autistic or otherwise neurodiverse and hiring four graduate lawyers from that program. 

The ABA is the largest voluntary association of lawyers in the world. As the national voice of the legal profession, the ABA works to improve the administration of justice, promotes programs that assist lawyers and judges in their work, accredits law schools, provides continuing legal education, and works to build public understanding around the world of the importance of the rule of law. View our privacy statement online. Follow the latest ABA news at and on Twitter @ABANews.