Ross Named Disability Rights Fellow
Third-year law student Daniel Ross has been named the 2011 Brown Goldstein & Levy Disability Rights Fellow, a competitive award that offers a job and first-year associate’s salary to a law school graduate with a disability.
Fellowship recipients litigate cases with a focus on disability rights law. Ross, who is legally blind, said he is excited to have the opportunity to work on cases close to his heart.
“The issues for the blind and the visually impaired are going to be most exciting to me because it will have a personal impact. But all of the work will be important,” Ross said.
Brown Goldstein & Levy is a general practice firm in Baltimore. Several of Ross’ future colleagues specialize in disability rights cases, including partner Dan Goldstein, who is counsel for the National Federation of the Blind, also located in Baltimore.
“People with disabilities, including attorneys, continue to face many barriers to employment. One of the goals in establishing this fellowship is to provide mentoring to a new generation of lawyers with disabilities as they enter the workplace,” said fellowship program director Sharon Krevor-Weisbaum. “The fellowship furthers our firm’s mission of providing clients with quality legal services while promoting justice through the enforcement of our nation’s civil rights laws.”
Ross learned of the award on the train heading home over the semester break.
“I saw the 410 number and knew it could be only one thing,” he said. “I tried to be calm but obviously I was excited. I’m thrilled to get this kind of training at the beginning of my career.”
Ross expects that much of his work at the firm will consist of defending the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act, which states that, “no covered entity shall discriminate against a qualified individual on the basis of disability.”
“As we know from school desegregation or a variety of other areas of law, what the law is and how the law is implemented are often two very different things,” Ross said. “Lots of this work consists of enforcement actions.”
The fellowship, which begins in September, helps Ross continue his interest in public service-related work. Last summer, he clerked for the American Civil Liberties Union on their LGBT Rights and AIDS Project. In the summer of 2009 he was an intern in the San Francisco District Attorney’s office. At the Law School, Ross is articles development editor at the Virginia Journal of Criminal Law.
Assistant Dean for Public Service Yared Getachew, who counseled Ross on his fellowship application, said Ross is one of the hardest-working people he’s met.
“Since his first semester at Virginia, Dan has had a relentless drive to become a skilled advocate,” Getachew said. “He has undertaken challenging pro bono and internships with diverse legal organizations ranging from civil legal services providers to law enforcement agencies. He has successfully juggled his studies, pro bono work, other volunteer endeavors and extracurricular activities.”
Ross, whose favorite Law School courses were focused on legal history, will also graduate with a master’s degree in history from the University of Virginia in May.
Ross said Professor Risa Goluboff’s 20th century constitutional law course will be especially helpful in his work in disability rights.
“Understanding how other [civil rights] movements have been successful or less successful will help me understand what works and what doesn’t and how I can best serve my clients,” he said.
Goluboff was equally impressed with Ross.
“He is smart, committed, and already has a ton of experience in so many different public interest settings. I am not at all surprised that he has received the Brown Goldstein & Levy Disability Rights Fellowship,” she said.
“Dean Getachew found the disability rights fellowship for me when I went to see him to brainstorm places to apply,” Ross said. “His encouragement and advice in my job search has been incredibly helpful, and was obviously key to securing the fellowship.”
Ross says he has been fortunate to be given the services he needed to succeed in school, and wants to make sure others have the same advantages.
“I’ve had the experience of seeing how the system ought to work for everybody,” he said.
Reported by tim arnold