With offices in California and New York, Disability Rights Advocates (DRA) is one of the leading nonprofit disability rights legal centers in the nation. Its mission is to advance equal rights and opportunity for people with all types of disabilities nationwide.
Cases and Clients
DRA represents people with disabilities whose civil rights have been violated. It identifies and dismantles barriers in partnership with a broad network of local and national client organizations, representing people with the full spectrum of disabilities, including mobility, sensory, cognitive, and psychiatric. DRA represents these organizations in complex, system-change class-action cases. DRA never charges its clients for representation.
DRA uses litigation, structured negotiations, advocacy, community education, and media to reform systems and practices that discriminate against people with disabilities.
DRA is small but mighty. In the organization’s 20+ year history, DRA has taken on more than 400 cases and won almost all—achieving dramatic improvements for people with disabilities seeking health care, employment, transportation, education, disaster preparedness planning, voting and housing.
DRA was founded in 1993 by visionary attorneys and disability advocates Larry Paradis and Sid Wolinsky. DRA is lead by four Managing Directors: Mary-Lee Smith and Michelle Caiola direct Litigation, Kate Hamilton directs Development & Operations, while Sid Wolinsky continues to guide the organization as Co-Founder.
The work of DRA’s nineteen attorneys, many of whom have disabilities, span multiple practice areas including education, employment, emergency planning, health care, access to public and private facilities & services, technology, telecommunications, transportation and veterans benefits.
DRA has a long-standing commitment to educating the next generation of public interest attorneys. In the organization’s 20 year history, DRA has trained more than 35 legal fellows—almost all of whom have gone onto careers as public interest attorneys. DRA has established a Wolinsky Fellowship Program that provides ongoing, two-year fellowships in honor of DRA’s Co-founder Sid Wolinsky. If you are interested in applying for a fellowship, please check our active job postings.
DRA’s annual operating budget is roughly $4 million. Less than 15% of DRA’s expenses are allocated to administrative costs. DRA relies on a mix of contributed and earned revenue to fuel its high-impact pro-bono legal work. To make a tax-deductible contribution to DRA, click here.
DRA and its attorneys not only have a strong track record of success but have collectively won more than 25 prestigious awards for their work including: California Lawyer of the Year awards, Top Women Litigators in California awards, Super Lawyer awards, Trial Lawyer of the Year awards, and Top 100 California Lawyer awards. Co-founder Sid Wolinsky has received the Loren Miller Legal Services Award for Lifetime Achievement from the State Bar of California and the Clark Siegel President’s Award for Lifetime Outstanding Service to the Community.