J.D. Stanford Law School
M.A. Cambridge University
B.A. Princeton University
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Susan Stefan is one of the country's most highly regarded experts in mental disability law. Stefan is an attorney at the forefront of the legal movement to assert the rights of the disabled and develop innovative approaches that can overcome systemic barriers to effective treatment for the mentally ill.
From 1986 until 1990, she worked for the Mental Health Law Project, which is now the Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law. More recently, she was an attorney with the Center for Public Representation in Massachusetts where she directed the Center's National Emergency Department. This department provides consultation and technical support on issues relating to the treatment of people with psychiatric disabilities in emergency department settings and community psychiatric crisis alternatives. It also brings litigation to protect the rights of people with psychiatric disabilities in emergency department settings.
Prior to working at the Center for Public Representation Stefan taught Disability Law and Mental Health Law at the University of Miami School of Law from 1990 until 2001. During that time she wrote two books, Unequal Rights: Discrimination Against People With Mental Disabilities and the Americans With Disabilities Act, and Hollow Promises: Employment Discrimination Against People With Mental Disabilities, as well as numerous articles and chapter on mental health law and disability law.
A third book, Emergency Department Treatment of the Psychiatric Patient: Policy Issues and Legal Requirements (Oxford University Press, 2006), examines problems in the emergency care of patients diagnosed with psychiatric disorders, and is based on research, surveys, legal materials, and personal interviews. She has contributed chapters to many other books and published numerous law review articles.
Stefan has litigated numerous ADA cases, including Ellen S. v. Florida Board of Bar Examiners, 859 F. Supp. 1489 (S.D. Fla. 1994) and Doe v. Stincer, 990 F. Supp, 1427 (S.D. Fla. 1997), vacated by Doe v. Stincer, 175 F. F.3d 879 (11th Cir. 1999), and has submitted several amici briefs to the United States Supreme Court and other lower courts.
Stefan is a recipient of many awards for her advocacy and litigation on behalf of people with psychiatric disabilities. A long-time NARPA member and supporter, Susan is the Vice President of NARPA's board.