CLE Speaker Bios


Arlene B. Mayerson has been the Directing Attorney of the Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund since 1981. One of the nation’s leading experts in disability rights law, she has been a key advisor to both Congress and the disability community on the major disability rights legislation for the past two decades, including the Handicapped Children’s Protection Act as well as other legislation ensuring the special education rights of students with disabilities, and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). At the request of members of Congress, Ms. Mayerson supplied expert testimony before several committees of Congress when they were debating the ADA. She filed comments on the ADA regulations for more than 500 disability rights organizations. Ms. Mayerson has devoted her career exclusively to disability rights practice, representing clients in a wide array of issues. She has provided representation, consultation to counsel, and coordination of amicus briefs on key disability rights cases before the U.S. Supreme Court. She was appointed by the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Education to the Civil Rights Reviewing Authority, responsible for reviewing civil rights decisions of the Department.

In addition to her position at DREDF, Ms. Mayerson is currently a lecturer in disability law at the University of California, Berkeley (Boalt Hall). She has published many articles on disability rights and is the author of a comprehensive three-volume treatise on the ADA: Americans with Disabilities Act Annotated-Legislative History, Regulations & Commentary (Clark Boardman Callaghan, 1994), which sets forth the legislative history and regulations for each provision of the ADA.


Richard Bernstein is a graduate of the University of Michigan and Northwestern University School of Law. He is an attorney with The Sam Bernstein Law Firm in Farmington Hills, Michigan.

Richard is committed to taking action to help clients who need him. He successfully partnered with the United States Department of Justice to force the City of Detroit to fix broken wheelchair lifts on its buses. In a landmark settlement against Delta Airlines and Detroit Metro Airport, Richard gained accessibility for disabled fliers and set the precedent for airlines and airports to be covered under the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. He fought the State of Michigan and won to preserve special education funding throughout the state.

Further, Richard represented the Paralyzed Veterans of American in an action against the University of Michigan’s plans for disabled seating in Michigan Stadium with the United States Department of Justice and represented disabled residents who sued the Oakland County (Michigan) Road Commission after “roundabout” traffic circles were built without disabled access. Some of Richard’s latest casework includes a federal suit against the American Bar Association to put an end to its discriminatory practices toward blind students via requirement of the Law School Admissions Test and against the City of New York to make Central Park safer for its visitors and accessible for blind, disabled and visually impaired individuals.

Richard teaches a political science course in social activism at the University of Michigan and served an eight-year term on the Board of Governors at Wayne State University in Michigan, elected by voters statewide, serving as Chair from 2009-2010.

Honors Richard has received include “Michiganian of the Year” by the Detroit News, oneĀ of Crain’s Detroit Business’ “40 Under 40” and recognition on worldwide television by CNN as a leader in keeping government honest. He is the recipient of the 2008 John W. Cummiskey Pro Bono Award from the State Bar of Michigan and was selected by The Young Lawyers Section of the State Bar of Michigan as the 2003-2004 Regeana Myrick Outstanding Young Lawyer Award recipient for outstanding commitment to public service. Richard also was named a 2009 Leader in the Law by Michigan Lawyers Weekly and received the James T. Neubacher Award in 2011. In 2011, he was selected by L. Brooks Patterson, Michigan’s Oakland County Executive, as one of the region’s Elite 40 Under 40. In 2012, Richard was selected as an inductee to the National Jewish Sports Hall of Fame, inducted in April 2013.


Tom Rouse - Photo

Tom Rouse currently serves as Mayor of the City of Erlanger, KY and President of the Kentucky Bar Association. Tom will serve as President of the Kentucky Bar Association in 2013-2014. Tom was recognized in 2004 with the Distinguished Lawyer Award from the Northern Kentucky Bar Association and was the recipient of the ‘Richard Lawrence Lifetime Achievement Award’ in 2012 for service to clients, profession and community.


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