Shawna Parks

Position: Chief Litigation Officer
Staff Leadership

Portrait of Shawna Parks
Portrait of Shawna Parks

Throughout her career, Shawna has worked extensively on high-impact, class action and individual disability rights cases, including cases addressing discrimination in education, government programs and services, employment, and the criminal and juvenile justice systems. Shawna also has extensive experience on a variety of civil rights matters, including Constitutional claims and fee shifting in civil rights cases.

​Shawna is currently listed as a Southern California “Super Lawyer” which identifies the top 5% of lawyers in Southern California. She has twice been named an Attorney of the Year by California Lawyer Magazine for her work on precedent-setting cases, including her work on a landmark class action addressing systemic education reform in Los Angeles County’s largest juvenile detention camp. She has also twice been a part of litigation teams named as Finalists for Trial Lawyers of the Year Award by Public Justice, including for her work on educational reform in detention facilities and large-scale barrier removal along public rights of way in Los Angeles. In 2016, Shawna received the “Breaking Education Barriers” award from the Learning Rights Law Center for her cutting-edge work on education issues, and in 2018 she was recognized by the Disability Rights Legal Center for her outstanding pro bono service based on her continued work with low-income people with disabilities.

​From 2014 to 2024 Shawna was the principal and founder of the Law Office of Shawna L. Parks, which handled a wide range of civil rights and disability rights cases, with a particular emphasis on discrimination in education. Prior to that, Shawna was Co-Director of Litigation at DRA, from 2012 through 2013. Among other matters, Shawna was lead trial counsel in a class action representing more than 900,000 people with disabilities in a challenge to the City of New York’s failure to address their needs in its large-scale disaster plans. In 2013 Shawna led the trial team to victory in the first trial of its kind in the nation.

​From 2005 through 2012 Shawna was with the Disability Rights Legal Center in Los Angeles, where she was most recently the Legal Director. In addition to litigating cases, from 2007-2012 Shawna was an Adjunct Professor at Loyola Law School where she co-taught Disability Rights and Special Education Law, and supervised DRLC’s litigation externship program. From 2003 to 2004 she was also an associate attorney at a civil rights law firm in Los Angeles, where she worked on employment discrimination matters, including race and sex discrimination.

​Shawna is a 1995 graduate of U.C. Berkeley, and a 1999 graduate of U.C. Berkeley School of Law, where she was a Notes and Comments editor for the California Law Review, and member of the Task Force on Public Interest Law. She was also a Fulbright Student in Budapest, Hungary from 1999 to 2000, where she studied the implementation of Hungary’s then-new anti-discrimination legislation. Shawna also received an Equal Justice Works Fellowship for her work as a new lawyer from 2000 to 2002.

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