2012 Equal Justice Works Fellow, Zach Strassburger
Name of Host Organization: KidsVoice
City, State: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Issue area: Disability Rights, Children/Youth
My project will represent these residentially isolated, high-needs youth in all of the spheres in which they may need legal assistance, from advocating for the appropriate school accommodations or placement to representing the young person in a family court proceeding. Further, Pennsylvania has new court rules requiring courts to take note of the health, education, and disability needs of youth. These rules are currently underutilized, and I want to be creative about implementing them to my clients’ advantage.
Making the connection:
I knew while applying to law school that I wanted to understand the system and to use law to protect people’s rights, but it took me a little longer to realize how to use the skills I learned there.
Surviving law school:
I went from working with clients daily as a paralegal at the Legal Aid Society to interacting only with books and my classmates. Those were fine, but clinical experiences reminded me of why I had come to law school and what I wanted to do with my life.
Eleanor Roosevelt, by Blanche W. Cook.-- A strong woman and a well-written biography. Disabled Rights: American Disability Policy and the Fight for Equality, by Jacqueline Vaughn Switzer -- A good introduction to the role of disability in American history and the modern disability rights movement.
Words to live by:
"It is not incumbent upon you to complete the work, but neither are you at liberty to desist from it." (Pirkei Avot 2:21)