KatMacfarlane

When the Law Empowers: Learning Disability Advocacy by Helping Yourself

In the past few months I’ve written about how disability makes a difficult profession even harder. But now, I want to tell you about how your legal knowledge empowers, especially when it comes to disability. I primarily teach first year law students. But I also teach a small seminar open only to upper division students. The difference, after just one year of law school, is striking. By students' second year, each thought is better supported, and the once shaky voice is newly willing to stake out a controversial position and stick to it. After just one year of law school,…

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KatMacfarlane

Controlling the Conversation About (Your) Disability

I’ve been thinking about the ways we control women. How we dictate the terms by which their identity is defined, discussed, and policed. When it comes to my identity as a disabled woman, I want to write the script. Still. I've been forced to talk about my disability when all I wanted to do was chat about the weather. I have so many conversations that detour from a random comment about the rain to an intrusive question about my joints. Sometimes, I want to talk about my disability, but the person I’m talking to decides he or she does not, and…

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KatMacfarlane

Can a Disabled Lawyer Achieve Work-Life Balance?

As I write this, an IV is pumping Remicade into a vein in my right elbow, on the fleshy, inner side. Remicade, a chemotherapeutic agent, treats my Rheumatoid Arthritis as well as the chronic inflammation in my eyes. I’m told that the 22 gauge needle used for the infusion might be more comfortable in another vein, like the big one on the back of my hand. But if the needle’s on the back of my hand, it will be harder to type on my phone. And I have work to do. I’ll be in the infusion center for about 3…

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KatMacfarlane

Making Peace with Testing Accommodations

I dreaded law school exams, but not because of the exams themselves. I received testing accommodations in law school, which meant that I took my exams in a room far away from the place all of my classmates took theirs. They noticed my absence. “I didn’t see you in the Contracts exam,” my classmates would tell me. Over the course of three years, I told only one friend about the accommodations room.  My testing accommodations were a closely guarded secret. I was ashamed that my testing experience was different, and afraid that my good grades would be attributed to the…

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KatMacfarlane

Do What You Love, But Be Open to Doing It Anywhere

“You can always come back,” my professor told me. It was my third year of law school, and I was stressed out about clerkships. My only clerkship interview was in Phoenix. But I lived in Los Angeles, the city that had become my home. My professor was helping me prepare for the interview. We were figuring out how I would explain why I wanted to live in a new city. I didn’t want to move. I wanted to start my legal career surrounded by people and places I knew. My professor told me that if I received an offer, I…

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