2010 Equal Justice Works Fellow, Meghan Carter

Meghan Carter

City, State: Chicago, Illinois
Issue area: Disability Rights
Sponsors: Pfizer Inc; Sidley Austin LLP

The Project

A common problem in Chicago is that tenants are evicted from their housing for reasons that stem from a disability. Instead of facing eviction, people with disabilities can request a reasonable accommodation, but those requests often require medical documentation that doctors can be hesitant to provide. I will work directly with medical and mental health providers in Chicago to address the issues that our clients face as they enforce their legal right to remain independent.

The Inspiration

My dedication to working with people with disabilities began as college advocacy to address the stigma that surrounds mental health issues. When I was introduced to the world of low-income housing law, I realized that stigma and unfounded fears about people with disabilities persist in housing and can even lead to eviction. I went to law school to equip myself with the tools my clients need in order to fight this discrimination. I am continually inspired by the resilience and strength of the clients and advocates that I've been privileged to work alongside.

Biography

Hometown:

Lynn, Massachusetts

Law school:

Making the connection:

I am driven by a desire to work on the side of people who have little power but a lot to lose. I come from a working class background and I was the first in my family to attend college. Growing up, my aunt, with whom I was very close, had bipolar disorder. I learned at a young age that mental illness is misunderstood and often feared, and that people are treated unfairly as a result. My passion for social justice comes not only from academic study but also my family's experiences.

Surviving law school:

Remember why you came to law school. Fill your schedule with practicums and clinics. Surround yourself with people who understand and encourage your public interest inclinations. In the classroom, fight the urge to treat the law as a giant logic puzzle; remind yourself, classmates, and professors that you're talking about laws and policies that impact real people. Reconnect the law with justice.

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