Many attorneys with disabilities have faced barriers erected even by well-intentioned colleagues, having to fight for respect and equality. Some have also found plum jobs at law firms and government agencies with supportive and positive cultures. In connection with our special report on disability inclusion in the legal industry, Law360 spoke with a number of lawyers with disabilities about what they’ve experienced along their career paths.
Kristy Avino was born with a hearing impairment. She earned her law degree from Boston College Law School and became a trial lawyer, eventually focusing on employment law.
She learned to navigate trials, though she was mostly deaf. Avino said she tried a case in Norfolk Superior Court, one of the older courthouses in Massachusetts with soaring ceilings and terrible acoustics. She spoke with the court reporter and arranged to have the transcript sent directly to her laptop in real-time.
Then, in her late 20s, she began to go blind.
It turned out to be the second act of a genetic disorder the McCarter & English LLP associate didn’t know she had — Usher syndrome. She has used technology such as screen readers and speech-to-text programs to keep working. She now advises clients on employment matters.
“My vision loss has been gradual, so it has been something I have been able to adapt to with technology,” she said.
“My disabilities,” Avino said, “are probably some of the least interesting things about me.”