Thanking Bill Alderman For His Board Service

Bill Alderman is Senior Counsel at Orrick, Herrington, and Sutcliffe, LLP.  He’s served on DRA’s Board of Directors since September 2006 and his final Board term ends this month. He spoke with Managing Director, Development & Operations, Kate Hamilton about his time with DRA and his hopes for its future. 

Kate Hamilton: What brought you to DRA/how did you first learn about our work?

Bill Alderman: I’d always been aware of DRA’s work through general media.  I first got involved when a friend, who had co-counseled with DRA on a very early disability rights case with Sid, suggested that I might be interested.  I’d always admired Sid from afar—going back to his Public Advocates days.  I jumped at the chance to get involved.  I started by co-counseling on DRA’s Chabner vs. United of Omaha case.  This precedential case established the obligation of a life insurance company to have an actuarial basis for charging higher premiums to people with disabilities.  Howard Chabner was a lawyer who had a rare form of Muscular Dystrophy and his insurance company was charging him a double premium.  We worked on that case shortly after DRA was formed—in the 90s.  I then went on to join the Board of Directors in 2006.

KH: What kept you at DRA?  What sets DRA apart from other organizations?

BA: The efficiency with which impact/results are achieved.  DRA is selecting cases that need to be litigated, litigating them efficiently, and over the years has achieved so many strikingly good results.  And of course—the nice people.    

KH: What are you most proud of DRA accomplishing during your tenure as a board member?

BA: Oh boy.  That’s like trying to choose among your children.  I can’t choose just one accomplishment.  It’s the aggregate impact of lots of different matters in lots of different areas.  They’re all important and have made a big difference and I’m proud of them all. 

KH: What do you hope DRA goes on to accomplish in the years ahead?

BA: I hope to see DRA expand its targeted impact beyond the East and West Coast.  A lot of what DRA does has nation-wide impact but more needs to be done.  When DRA was founded, the West Coast benefitted.  Now the East Coast as well.  There’s a lot of discrimination going on, maybe even more than on the coasts, between the coasts.  DRA’s model is scalable.  We can and should be doing more!

KH: How are you staying engaged with DRA and disability rights now that your board-term has come to an end?

BA: I’m continuing to chair DRA’s Audit Committee.  I’m working on the organization’s strategic planning.  I will continue to be a donor to DRA and am always available for advice if anyone wants to ask for it. 

KH: Anything else to share?

BA: Yes.  I’d like to offer a shout out to Sid and Larry—in terms of the vision for creating the organization, shepherding it for the first 25 years, exercising their vision and leadership for so long; it’s a pretty remarkable story.  Above all remarkable for winning cases and achieving structured settlements that have had a huge impact.  DRA almost never loses a case.  That’s pretty spectacular.  This highlights the importance of the Larry Paradis Legacy Fund—ensuring that DRA can and will tackle the cases that are more of a long shot—high risk and high reward to keep their vision alive.