CHICAGO (July 27, 2015) – Honoring the 25th anniversary of the passage of the landmark Americans With Disabilities Act, McDermott Will & Emery announced today that it will be the first sponsor of a new fellowship for Chicago-area attorneys with disabilities.
McDermott is working with Equal Justice Works, a leading advocacy group and the number one provider of public interest opportunities for law students and lawyers, in creating its new “ADA 25 Chicago Fellowship.”
The ADA 25 Chicago Fellow will be a two-year fellowship for a selected disabled attorney to be placed at a nonprofit legal aid organization in Chicago, beginning in the fall term of 2016. By providing financial support for select public interest attorneys with disabilities, the program sponsors hope to inspire other disabled law students and new attorneys to apply for future fellowships as part of their pursuit of post-graduate employment.
The ADA is the ground-breaking civil rights law that prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities in employment, transportation, public accommodation, communications and governmental activities. It was passed with broad bipartisan support in 1990 and has since become a cornerstone of the protection of the rights of the disabled. Despite great progress, however, disabled individuals still endure higher poverty rates, lower employment and educational outcomes than those without disabilities.
ADA 25 Chicago is a network of more than 160 partnering organizations leveraging the 25th anniversary of the ADA to make commitments to improve the lives of people with disabilities in the key areas of education, employment, community inclusion and technology. McDermott is the first to sponsor a Fellowship for a recent law graduate supporting access to justice.
McDermott has been a long time sponsor of Equal Justice Works Fellowships, investing more than $723,000 to fund nine two-year Fellowships in areas such as children/youth, early children education, disability rights and human rights since 2005. Eighty-seven percent of former Fellows sponsored by McDermott remain in public interest law today.
McDermott has also worked closely for years with Equip for Equality, a nonprofit that supports the rights of people to make their own decisions and seeks to remove barriers that prevent them from being productive, independent and successful in all aspects of their lives. Equip for Equality, which awarded McDermott its Civil Rights Leadership Award in 2012, administers the federally mandated Protection and Advocacy System for Illinois.
“Our new Fellowship will help ensure that the ADA remains a living agent of progress in guaranteeing that people with disabilities are granted their rights to equal employment and educational opportunities” said McDermott co-chair Jeffrey E. Stone. “We are proud to be the first to sponsor an ADA 25 Chicago Fellow. We hope our program will encourage other students to seek Fellowship support towards a career in law.”
“The new ADA 25 Fellowship is a strong reflection of McDermott’s commitment to expanding opportunities for people of all backgrounds,” added McDermott co-chairman Peter Sacripanti. “The Americans with Disabilities Act ensures that people with disabilities have equal rights to pursue personal, educational and professional ambitions and to participate fully in public life. As such, it is a civil rights milestone, and one that we are committed to upholding with our sponsorship of the ADA 25 Chicago Fellow.”
“I applaud McDermott Will & Emery’s leadership to sponsor the inaugural ADA 25 Chicago Fellowship,” said Equal Justice Works Executive Director David Stern. “This Fellowship will enable a law school graduate with disabilities to pursue a career in public interest law. What a great and unique way to celebrate the 25th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act. We hope it will lead to many more similar opportunities for lawyers with disabilities to follow their dreams of public service.”
Applications to the Fellowship can be found here: http://equaljusticeworks.org/post-grad/equal-justice-works-fellowships/apply
Third year law students and recent graduates will work with potential host organizations in Chicago to submit Fellowship applications to Equal Justice Works. Equal Justice Works and McDermott will choose the inaugural Fellow this fall, and the Fellow will begin service in August of 2016.
About ADA 25 Chicago
ADA 25 Chicago is a network of civic partners who have come together to commemorate and advance a civil rights milestone – the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Despite 25 years of progress, people with disabilities still have higher poverty rates, lower employment and poorer educational outcomes than those without disabilities. ADA 25 Chicago is convening leaders from throughout the region to commit to new programs and initiatives that will build awareness and expand access, inclusion and opportunity for people with disabilities in the key areas of education, employment, community inclusion and technology. The vision of ADA 25 Chicago is to help make Metropolitan Chicago the most inclusive region in the nation. The Chicago Community Trust is the lead sponsor of ADA 25 Chicago. For more information, please visit www.ADA25Chicago.org. #ADA25Chicago
About Equal Justice Works
Equal Justice Works is the national leader in creating public interest opportunities for law students and lawyers. Collaborating with the nation’s leading law schools, law firms, corporate legal departments and nonprofit organizations, Equal Justice Works offers a continuum of opportunities that provide the training and skills that enable attorneys to provide effective representation to underserved communities and causes. Equal Justice Works is a 501(c) (3) nonprofit organization. For additional information about Equal Justice Works, please visit www.equaljusticeworks.org
About Equip for Equality
Designated in 1985 as the federally funded Protection and Advocacy System for people with disabilities in Illinois, Equip for Equality’s mission is to advance the human and civil rights of people with all types of disabilities in Illinois. Equip for Equality provides self-advocacy assistance, legal services, and disability rights education while also engaging in public policy and legislative advocacy and conducting abuse investigations and other oversight activities. For more information, www.equipforequality.org
About McDermott’s Commitment to Pro Bono Work
McDermott Will & Emery recognizes and appreciates the need to give back to the communities of which it is a part and to assist those who are unable to afford legal services. The Firm offers a comprehensive pro bono and community service program managed and led by its full-time pro bono partner and the chair of our Pro Bono & Community Service Committee, which seeks to ensure that the same standards of quality, service and care that McDermott gives to its paying clients are also afforded to those it serves on a pro bono basis. The Firm strongly encourages its lawyers and staff to participate in pro bono initiatives, volunteer services and charitable activities, and it recognizes lawyer time dedicated to pro bono and community service as equivalent to billable hours for all purposes. For more about McDermott’s commitment to social responsibility, click here.
About McDermott Will & Emery
McDermott Will & Emery is a premier international law firm with a diversified business practice. Numbering more than 1,000 lawyers, we have offices in Boston, Brussels, Chicago, Dallas, Düsseldorf, Frankfurt, Houston, London, Los Angeles, Miami, Milan, Munich, New York, Orange County, Paris, Rome, Seoul, Silicon Valley and Washington, D.C. Further extending our reach into Asia, we have a strategic alliance with MWE China Law Offices in Shanghai.