Area of Expertise
Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA); mental disability; special education; supported decision making; issues of capacity of people with disabilities; human rights of people with disabilities; legal education; lawyering process and skills
Robert Dinerstein is professor of law and director of WCL's Disability Rights Law Clinic. He specializes in the Americans with Disabilities Act and other disability statutes, the rights of people with intellectual disabilities and mental health disabilities or psychosocial disorders, civil rights, lawyer-client issues, clinical legal education, and general aspects of legal education. He was the law school's associate dean for academic affairs from 1997 to 2004 and associate dean for experiential education from 2013-2018. He directed WCL's clinical program from 1988 to 1996 and from 2008 to 2018. Dinerstein served on the President's Committee on Mental Retardation [now named the President’s Committee on People with Intellectual Disabilities] from 1994 to 2001 and is currently a member of the American Bar Association Commission on Disability Rights. Prior to joining AU in 1983, Dinerstein worked as an attorney in the U.S. Department of Justice's Civil Rights Division, where he handled federal court cases on the rights of people institutionalized in mental hospitals, institutions for people with intellectual disabilities, and juvenile training schools. Dinerstein currently is president of the board of directors of the Equal Rights Center and a member of the boards of directors of New Hope Community and New Hope Foundation. Previously, he has served on the boards of the District of Columbia Bar, the Society of American Law Teachers, Quality Trust for Individuals with Disabilities Inc. (founding member and chair, 2001-2017), Washington Legal Clinic for the Homeless, Inc. (founding member and treasurer), Advocates for Justice Education (treasurer), Disability Rights International (chair), Maryland Disability Law Center, and Legal Counsel for the Elderly. He is actively involved with national legal education issues within the American Bar Association (where he was an elected member of the Council of the Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar 2006–2011) and the Association of American Law Schools (where he has served as chair of the Section on Clinical Legal Education, and was a co-founder of the Clinical Law Review, among other positions). Dinerstein has written numerous articles and presented extensively on disability law (domestic and international) and clinical legal education subjects. He is coauthor and coeditor of A Guide to Consent (American Association on Mental Retardation, 1999), which addresses issues of capacity and consent in the lives of people with intellectual disabilities. He is coauthor of Lawyers and Clients: Critical Issues in Interviewing and Counseling (Thomson Reuters, 2009). He is the winner of the William Pincus Award (AALS Section on Clinical Legal Educations, 2010), the Egon Guttman Casebook Award (with Ann Shalleck) (WCL, 2011–12), and the Paul G. Hearne Award for Disability Rights (ABA Commission on Disability Rights, 2013), and was elected a Fellow of the American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (2016). He has received a number of awards from the university and law school for his teaching, scholarship, and service, including the University Award for Scholar-Teacher of the Year (2013).