About Us
Oregon State Bar Disability Law Section

Welcome to our Web site! Please consider joining the Disability Law Section if your practice area includes (or if you intend to have it include) the numerous legal issues affecting individuals with disabilities and/or entities which serve, accommodate or employ individuals with disabilities.  Membership of the Disability Law Section is as broad and diverse as the prior sentence implies.  And while the current Executive Committee is very active and dedicated, there is also room for lawyers with this level of commitment. 

If you have any questions about joining the Disability Law Section of the Oregon State Bar, or participating with the Executive Committee, please contact the Section Chairperson:   Heidi von Ravensberg 

Past year's Section Annual Reports are archived below for your review.
Disability Law Section
December 1, 2008

The Disability Law Section Executive Committee met approximately every month during 2008.  Meetings alternated between the Oregon State Bar Building and the meeting room of Disability Rights Oregon (formerly Oregon Advocacy Center).

Activities and Accomplishments:

The Executive Committee met with representatives of the Disability and Business Technical Assistance Center Northwest to discuss introducing the concept of Universal Design into Oregon State Bar services and architectural access.  The Bar has agreed to explore Universal Design particularly in regard to services.   Meanwhile, the Section has continued to provide input to the OSB on its web accessibility.

The Executive Committee granted financial assistance to the recipient of the Wade and Elsie Marler Plymell Scholarship for a University of Oregon Law Student with disabilities (founded by Disability Law Section Treasurer Alice Plymell).  The Section provided funds assisting the student to attend a national conference and career fair for law students with disabilities.

The Executive Committee met with Jon Benson, the new OSB Administrator of Bar Admissions to discuss and provide input into issues regarding bar exam reasonable accommodations.  The Executive Committee also met with Frank Garcia, the new OSB Administrator of the Bar Affirmative Action Program to discuss Bar activities concerning people with disabilities.

Section Members assisted with reviews and updates to Bar Tel-law scripts pertaining to disability issues. 

The Section Chair attended the September House of Delegates meeting.

Budget:  The Section expenses were under budget.  The budget balance remains strong for the upcoming year and should allow for website revision, newsletter(s) and conducting two CLE events.

Legislative issues:

The Section will have several opportunities to consider legislation in the new state session.  The Section is pleased to have new membership on the Executive Committee committed to identifying priority issues appropriate for the Section to take action upon.

Matters considered/Matters pending:

The Executive Committee plans to continue working on matters pertaining to Universal Design, with a particular emphasis on assessment of service delivery.  The Executive Committee plans to meet again with Frank Garcia and Jon Benson regarding possible new or updated rules for bar admissions as they pertain to disability.  One specific related issue of concern is addressing the cost and time commitment necessary for students with cognitive disabilities to obtain current and accurate expert assessments.

Recommendations for 2009:

1.CLE cosponsored with Oregon Social Security Claims
          Representatives on Fibromyalgia.
2.CLE cosponsored with Diversity Section.
3.Reinstitute print newsletter.
4.Hold at least one meeting in Eugene and another at a location
          designed to reach out to members outside of Metro area.
5.Renew support to assist one or two Oregon law students with
          disabilities with legal career development.

Respectfully submitted:  Theodore E. Wenk (CH), Neisha A. Saxena (Past CH & Secretary), Alice M. Plymell (TR), Heidi von Ravensberg (CH- Elect),  Anna Davis, Christina Thacker, Lana Traynor, Thomas Doyle, Audrey Matsumonji (BC), Margaret Robinson (BL). 

2007 Section Annual Report
Disability Law Section

November 14, 2007

The Disability Law Section Executive Committee met approximately every month during 2007. Meetings were held at the OSB headquarters in Lake Oswego, with meetings also taking place at the Oregon Advocacy Center in downtown Portland, and at the University of Oregon Law School in Eugene.

Activities and Accomplishments:

Outreach/Development: The Section continued its relationship with the University of Oregon Disability Studies Initiative, by holding two meetings at the law school. Executive Committee member Heidi von Ravensberg is a faculty member of the Disability Law Initiative and serves as an informal liaison.

The Executive Committee will soon welcome four new members: Lana Traynor, Thomas Doyle, Christina Thacker, and Jonathan Caver.

Continuing Legal Education: On May 10, 2007, the Section co-sponsored a CLE with the Oregon Social Security Claims Representatives for social security practitioners on social security work incentives. Lunch was provided and the CLE was held at the Oregon Advocacy Center. An audio file replay was emailed to section members on November 9, 2007, for the benefit of those who could not attend.

The Section is planning a day long CLE in Eugene in conjunction with the Disability Studies Initiative on disability law in general. There will be panel presentations on education, employment, architecture and other issues of interest to disability law practitioners. The CLE will be held in early 2008.

Newsletter/Website: Members have expressed interest in a tangible, print newsletter in addition to a website. After several years, a print newsletter will be published in early 2008.

Matters Considered/Matters Pending:

Other on-going projects include: advocacy regarding accessibility of the new OSB headquarters and the Eugene Federal Court House; monitoring and outreach concerning Bar Exam accommodations; and training brochures for lawyers and clients regarding access to justice for people with disabilities as recommended by the Oregon Judicial Department Task Force.

Executive committee member Heidi von Ravensberg provided technical assistance to the OSB regarding Braille signage in the new building. The Section met with OSB staff and members of the Board of Bar Examiners to gather information and provide input regarding the bar exam accommodation process.

Legislative Issues:

Neisha Saxena served as legislative liaison for 2007. In 2008, Neisha Saxena, Ted Wenk and Lana Traynor will serve in this capacity.

Executive Committee members Alice Plymell and Heidi von Ravensberg worked with Oregon Advocacy Center Executive Director and Disability Law Section founding member Bob Joondeph to draft proposed legislation for the 2007 session creating a regulatory body to license prostheticists and a minimum warranty for prosthetic devices. These bills did not pass this session. The Section is in the process of discussing legislative issues for 2009.

General Budget Information: Our ending balance was $6,561, and we were under budget for the year.

Recommendations for 2008:

  • CLE in Eugene jointly sponsored with U of O Disability Studies Initiative;
  • Development and maintenance of a Section website, and production of a print newsletter;
  • Continue outreach in the form of Committee meetings in Eugene;
  • Continue development by recruiting new Executive Committee members.

Respectfully submitted: Neisha A. Saxena (CH), Linda Ziskin (Past CH), Alice M. Plymell (TR), Theodore E. Wenk (SEC), Barbara J. Fields, Heidi von Ravensberg, Ann L. Fisher (BC), Margaret Robinson (BL).

2006 Section Annual Report
Disability Law Section

December 27, 2006

The Disability Law Section Executive Committee met approximately every month during 2006.  Meetings were generally held at the Bar headquarters in Lake Oswego, with meetings also taking place at the Oregon Advocacy Center in downtown Portland.

Outreach/Development: This year, for the first time, the Executive Committee took its “show on the road,” with well attended meetings in Salem and Eugene.  By holding meetings in various locations in the state, the Executive Committee hopes to demonstrate that we serve the membership throughout the state, not just in Portland or Lake Oswego.  And, by exposing the inner workings of the Executive Committee to the membership at large, we hope to generate interest in service on the Executive Committee, and thereby cultivate a pipeline of future Section and Bar leaders.

The Executive Committee welcomed a new Committee member, Eugene attorney Heidi von Ravensberg, who joined us mid-year.  In addition, Portland attorney Barbara Fields has agreed to join the Committee.

Continuing Legal Education:  In addition to these outreach and development activities, we participated in two CLEs this year which have introduced the Disability Law Section to a broad spectrum of Oregon lawyers.  On September 15, 2006, Linda Ziskin and Bob Joondeph, along with Dan Arkin, a retired lawyer and disability advocate, and Deborah Olsen, Professor of Education at the University of Oregon,  participated in a panel presentation at the Affirmative Action Program’s day long CLE in Eugene.  Stella Manabe, Affirmative Action Director of the OSB, intended for these CLEs to “set the momentum for a favorable outcome” of the House of Delegates AAP Reauthorization vote the following day.  However, the CLEs did more than that.  Stella, thanking the Disability Law Section participants for contributing to the synergy of the event, told us that, based on audience comments, the day-long CLE was a personal and professional “life altering” day.

On October 21, 2006, Executive Committee members Heidi von Ravensburg, Alice Plymell, and Linda Ziskin were joined by Dan Arkin in a panel presentation and discussion for the New Lawyers Division at their day long CLE in Lake Oswego.  We endeavored to pique the interest of new lawyers in the wide variety of disability law issues, and how to spot those issues in any field of practice.  We were asked to participate again next year, and we will be happy to do so.

In 2005, the Section participated jointly with the Oregon Social Security Claimants’ Representatives  (OSSCR) in a CLE covering the new Medicare Part D.  A CLE with OSSCR did not take place in 2006, but one is planned for early 2007, also involving Oregon Advocacy Center, likely covering issues having to do with Supplemental Security Income (SSI) work incentive programs.  In addition, a CLE covering changes in Special Education Laws (IDEIA) is tentatively planned for the first half of 2007.

Newsletter/Website:  Members have expressed interest in a tangible, print newsletter in addition to a website.  One of Linda’s goals for this year was to develop, and keep dynamically updated, a comprehensive website including CLE content, links to other websites of interest, links to cases of importance and other research materials, and an archive of past print newsletters.  This website should be updated continually, as needed.  In addition, the Section should produce a print newsletter, perhaps quarterly.  While this goal was not completely met in 2006, considerable progress has been made, thanks to the efforts of Ted Wenk and Neisha Saxena.  We look forward to continuing to work on this in 2007.  

Disability Studies:  Executive Committee member Heidi von Ravensburg has been instrumental in beginning implementation of the Disability Studies Initiative (DSI) at University of Oregon.  In 2006, the University of Oregon Disability Studies Initiative Subcommittee on Law made progress towards its goals to 1) raise awareness of DS and disability law issues on campus and in the community, and 2) infuse disability law content into the UO School of Law curriculum, and 3) establish a disability law center and clinic. The DSI is encouraged by its partnership with the OSB Disability Law Section and the mutually beneficial projects that are underway as a result (i.e., information exchange, mentoring, opportunity to present at CLEs). Next steps for DSI are to continue partnering with the section and dialogs with the UO School of Law to the meeting of goals.        

Legislative Issues:  Bob Joondeph served as our legislative liaison during 2006, and he kept the Section membership well-informed as to legislative news and developments, emailing the membership regularly. 

The Disability Law Section Executive Committee voted to take a position opposing the removal of the mandatory Elimination of Bias CLE requirement.  On September 19, Bob Joondeph spoke on behalf of the Section at a meeting of the Oregon Supreme Court that was gathering public input on the EOB issue.  Bob relayed the position of the Section and conveyed the importance of the EOB requirement to attorneys and other Oregonians with disabilities.

Executive Committee members Alice Plymel and Heidi Ravensberg worked with Bob Joondeph to draft proposed legislation for the 2007 session.  The legislation would create a regulatory body to license prostheticists and would create a minimum warranty for prosthethic devices.  These two bills will be introduced during the session.

The President’s Public Service Award is given to attorneys who have made substantial contributions to the public through recent efforts involving pro bono services, the legislative/public affairs process, law-related education, coordination of public service law-related events, service with community boards or organizations, or similar activities that benefit the public. Robert C. Joondeph received this award at the bar’s annual Awards Dinner in December, 2006.

Robert C. Joondeph has dedicated his career to public service. He began as a VISTA volunteer for legal aid in Klamath Falls, later working as a staff attorney for Metropolitan Public Defenders and in various positions with Oregon Legal Services. Mr. Joondeph joined the board of the Oregon Advocacy Center (OAC) in 1983, ending his term as president. He left that position to become managing attorney of the center.

Under Mr. Joondeph’s longtime direction, OAC provides legal advice and information about the rights of people with disabilities. This includes civil rights, special education, health care, rights to public and private services, guardianship and rights in care facilities. OAC has received public service awards from the United Cerebral Palsy Association, the Metropolitan Human Rights Center, the Community Partnerships Project and the Oregon Trial Lawyers Association.

Mr. Joondeph is also an active bar and community volunteer, primarily in roles that further his public service commitment. He serves on the executive committees of the OSB’s Disability Law Section and the Diversity Section, and is a member of the OSB House of Delegates. He sits on the board of directors for the Center for Disability and Health and is a member of the Mental Health Planning and Management Advisory Council.

General Budget Information:  Our ending balance was $5,283, and we were under budget for the year.

Recommendations for next year’s goals /activities: 

*  SSI and IDEIA CLEs as described above, as well as participation in the New Lawyer CLE day; CLEs in other areas of Oregon, primarily Eugene; possibly a conference at UO Law School involving implementation of the Courthouse Access Task Force’s recommendations;

* Development and maintenance of a Section website, and production of a print newsletter;

*  Continue outreach in the form of Committee meetings in Salem and Eugene, and possibly other cities, depending on the location of our members;

*  Continue development by recruiting new Executive Committee members.

2006 Executive Committee members:

Linda Ziskin, Chair
Neisha A. Saxena, Chair-elect
Alice M. Plymell, Treasurer
Theodore E. Wenk
Robert C. Joondeph
Margaret J. Nightingale
Heidi von Ravensberg
John A. Enbom, Board of Governors Contact
Margaret Robinson, Oregon State Bar staff liaison

It has been my pleasure and privilege to serve as the 2006 Chair of the Disability Law Section.  I welcome Neisha Saxena as the 2007 Chair.

Respectfully submitted,

Linda S. Ziskin