79 UMKC L. Rev. 123 (2010-2011)
The Last Taboo: Breaking Law Students with Mental Illnesses and Disabilities out of the Stigma Straitjacket

handle is hein.journals/umkc79 and id is 125 raw text is: THE LAST TABOO: BREAKING LAW STUDENTS
WITH MENTAL ILLNESSES AND DISABILITIES OUT
OF THE STIGMA STRAITJACKET
Jennifer Jolly-Ryan*
I. INTRODUCTION
The number of people with illnesses, disorders, and disabilities in our
society is huge. More than fifty million Americans are disabled, at least to some
2
degree.' That equates to nearly twenty percent of all Americans.      Even more
Americans, although not qualified as persons with a disability under the
Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), suffer from a temporary or periodic
disability, disorder, or illness during some time in their lives. Although physical
disabilities and illnesses usually come to mind when one thinks about legal
protections and the availability of employment or educational opportunities,
mental illnesses, disorders, and disabilities are just as prevalent in our society.
Many people suffer from episodic or periodic mental illnesses or disorders during
their lives.4
Although professional treatment, counseling, and medication greatly
mitigate the symptoms and adverse affects of many mental illnesses, disorders,
and disabilities, people who suffer from them continue to be stigmatized and
discriminated against. As a result, they often suffer significant hurdles to
employment and educational opportunities.s
Ironically, the very people who are in the best position to increase the
number of lawyers who intimately understand the discrimination and health care
laws in our society impose some of the highest hurdles to employment and
educational opportunities. Lawyers stigmatize and often decline to hire other
* Professor of Legal Writing, Salmon P. Chase College of Law, Northern Kentucky University.
Thanks to Dawn Daley-Nichols, Isaac Burkhart, Robert Adair and Janice Ison for their assistance
on this article.
' AM. BAR Ass'N COMM'N ON MENTAL & PHYSICAL DISABILITY LAW, GOAL III REPORT 5 (2010),
http://www.abanet.org/disability/docs/2010GoalIII.pdf [hereinafter GOAL III REPORT]; Michael S.
Greco, Importance of the Conference to the Legal Profession, in AM. BAR Ass'N, THE NATIONAL
CONFERENCE ON THE EMPLOYMENT OF LAWYERS WITH DISABILITIES: A REPORT FROM THE
AMERICAN    BAR     ASSOCIATION   FOR    THE    LEGAL    PROFESSION   8    (2006),
http://www.abanet.org/disability/docs/confreport-final.pdf.
2 GOAL III REPORT, supra note 1, at 5; DEP'T OF HEALTH & HUMAN SERV., MENTAL HEALTH: A
REPORT        OF        THE       SURGEON         GENERAL        xii       (1999),
http://www.surgeongeneral.gov/library/mentalhealth/home.html (follow Executive Summary
hyperlink; then follow here hyperlink) [hereinafter SURGEON GENERAL'S REPORT]; Press Release,
U.S. Census Bureau, Facts for Features: 20th Anniversary of Americans With Disabilities Act (July
26)           (May            26,           2004),          available          at
http://www.census.gov/newsroom/releases/archives/facts-for features special editions/cb 10-
f1 3.html.
See 42 U.S.C.  12102 (Supp. 2008) for qualifications under the ADA.
4 See SURGEON GENERAL'S REPORT, supra note 2, at xiii-xiv (follow Executive Summary
hyperlink; then follow here hyperlink).
GOAL III REPORT, supra note 1, at 5-6; see also Wendy F. Hensel, The Disability Dilemma: A
Skeptical Bench & Bar, 69 U. Prrr. L. REv. 637, 637-38 (2008).

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