Article taken from Queen’s Legal News Bulletin Maria Nunez, Queen’s University Law ’16
Maria Nunez, Law’16, an advocate for persons with disabilities, is now a published author on the topic. Her paper about the impact of the law school admissions process on these individuals appears in the 2015 Canadian Legal Education Annual Review (CLEAR).
In her article, “The Law School Admission Council, the Law School Admission Test, and Barriers for Individuals with Disabilities. Oh My! Leaving the Legal Profession Before Admission?,” she argues that the current LSAT accommodation process discriminates towards persons with disabilities, raising a human rights concern and creating barriers for entry into the legal profession.
“The status quo is that students with disabilities are still not being properly accommodated,” says Nunez. “It remains to be seen what procedural protections will be put in place to ensure that admissions procedures for students with disabilities are equitable.”
Before coming to law school, Nunez worked as an aid for youth and adults with disabilities, and volunteered with various community organizations in Calgary. “Advocating for persons with disabilities is a cause close to my heart,” she says. “I wanted to raise awareness about the fact that many students are deterred from applying to law school because they do not receive adequate disability accommodations for the LSAT, despite ample medical documentation. A strong case exists for systemic discrimination.”
Nunez wrote the paper as part of an independent study project supervised by Professor Beverley Baines, Law’73, who encouraged Nunez to write on a topic that she was passionate about. “It is a very well researched, significant contribution to the issues raised,” says Baines. “I think people in the legal world, including those in all Canadian law schools, need to read it.”
While publishing a paper in law school was not always a goal of hers, Nunez is proud that her article can educate people about some of the contemporary barriers that persons with disabilities encounter when pursuing law school. “Whatever I do in the future, I hope that I will make a positive mark and help people.”
In a separate email to WLAO, Nunez wrote: I feel “The paper is very important and relevant for the Canadian law profession. For those unfamiliar with the topic, in 2012, the United States Justice Department brought an action against the Law School Admission Council (LSAC), alleging “widespread and systemic deficiencies in the way it processes requests by people with disabilities for testing accommodations.” In 2014, a settlement agreement was reached requiring LSAC to reform its accommodation practices and to pay $7.73 million in penalties and damages. I write about how similar concerns still affect access to legal education in Canada and I offer recommendations for how LSAC and law schools can better address the needs of Canadians with disabilities.”