Thursday, January 10, 2008

Cut Out To Be A Lawyer?

Consider the story of Lisa Dawn Rittenhouse, a former law student at Southern Illinois University, who is suing her former dean and law school because the school rejected her application for readmission. Rittenhouse finished her first year at SIU with a 1.98 GPA and school rules require a 2.0 average for a student to continue.

Rittenhouse alleges she was discriminated against based on her race (white) and her disability. From the story of her lawsuit appearing in the Madison County Record, she filed a complaint in the US District Court for the Southern District of Illinois in which she explained that she suffers from bipolar disorder, hyperactivity, ADHD, and dyslexia. Her complaint describes ADHD as "Attention Span Deficit Disorder," which contributed to her "low grape point average." This and other impairments "substantially limits here [sic] ability to perform" and the school's failure to accommodate her was a violation of the "Americans for [sic] Disabilities Act."

Disabilities are not funny. At some point, though, we must distinguish between those people with the potential to succeed as lawyers, and those whose talents point in another direction. Ms. Rittenhouse's case raises the difficult and essential question for legal academy. Where does reasonable accommodation for disabilities end?

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