Vanderbilt clinical professor of law Alex Hurder has spent much of his career championing the rights of people with mental and physical disabilities. Now Hurder is taking on an even more powerful role as an advocate for individuals with disabilities.
The new president of the American Bar Association has appointed Hurder to be the chair of the Commission on Mental and Physical Disability Law. The role of the commission is to advise the entire American Bar Association and participate in the development of policy regarding disability rights.
“I am honored to be appointed chair of the Commission on Mental and Physical Disability Law,” said Hurder. “My goal for the year is to help expand job opportunities for lawyers with disabilities and to make law schools more welcoming to students with disabilities.”
Hurder said he wants to educate employers of the advantages of hiring people with mental or physical disabilities.
“Many people with disabilities have strengths, abilities and talents that are incredibly useful to a law firm or judgeship,” said Hurder. “People with disabilities learn to be problem-solvers and that is a skill that lawyers need. The legal profession has a history of enforcing rights, but needs to do a better job of following its own advice.”
This commission is one of the ABA’s Goal IX groups, which were established to encourage diversity within the legal profession. Hurder has been an active member of the disability commission for the past three years and is an expert on the Americans with Disabilities Act.