Olmstead Disability Rights Clinic

The Olmstead Disability Rights Clinic is yearlong clinical course taught in partnership with the Atlanta Legal Aid Society’s Disability Integration Project. Students have the opportunity to advocate on behalf of children and adults with disabilities in special education cases, administrative proceedings, and potential federal litigation.

Olmstead is the most important U.S. Supreme Court decision for people with disabilities. Brought by the Atlanta Legal Aid Society, the decision held that individuals who need institution level of care services have the right to receive those services in the community.

Olmstead is a critical topic in Georgia because the state is carrying out a 2010 Justice Department settlement based on Olmstead that is transforming services for people with mental illness and developmental disabilities. The U.S. Justice Department filed a new lawsuit in August 2016 in Georgia based on Olmstead related to alternative schools for children with behavior related disabilities.

The classroom meetings will explore what is happening in Georgia, legal issues involving Olmstead, advocacy/litigation skills, and issues arising as students advocate for their clients.

Topics will include:

  • The Americans with Disabilities Act
  • Advocating with State Agencies
  • Impact Litigation
  • Working with the Media
  • Trial and Negotiation Skills
  • School Advocacy
  • Civil Commitment

Students will average 10 hours a week of client representation and advocacy under the supervision of an Atlanta Legal Aid Society attorney. Office hours will take place at the Atlanta Legal Aid Society Decatur office and offsite.

For more information or an application, contact Susan Walker Goico, clinic director, at 770-817-7536 or swgoico@atlantalegalaid.org.


The course is a full academic year (two-semester) clinic worth three credit hours each semester. It is pass/fail. Students must enroll in both the fall and spring semesters. Second- and third-year students may apply.