Justin Page is a staff attorney with Mid-Minnesota Legal Aid/Minnesota Disability Law Center. His practice focuses on disability access and discrimination litigation. He has successfully represented individuals with disabilities in a wide range of disability cases involving public accommodations and governmental entities. He was a law clerk for Judge Pamela Alexander, Fourth Judicial District of Minnesota, and worked as a legislative aide to the late U.S. Sen. Paul Wellstone.
Describe a typical day (if there is such a thing) in your job.
I wouldn’t describe any of my days as typical because of the wide variety of work I do. However, to the extent that I do have a typical day, I am usually advising clients, researching legal issues, trying to negotiate settlements, and attending policy meetings. Occasionally, I attend administrative or court hearings.
You are part of the Shriver Center’s Racial Justice Training Institute this year. How do you plan to use what you have learned in RJTI in your work?
I was honored to have the opportunity to participate in RJTI. Racial justice is truly one of the great issues facing us as a nation. We have a long way to go, but, having met a number of committed, passionate, and smart advocates working on these issues, I am optimistic that one day we will get there.
I am already implementing the strategies that I learned at RJTI into my own practice. I am taking a look at my cases to see if there are racial equity strategies that can address the legal problem for my clients and others. Additionally, I have used the framing and communications techniques that we learned in a few of my current cases.
If you could give a high five to one of your legal heroes (living or dead), who would get it and why?
If I could pick only one, it would be U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor. I read her memoir, and it was very inspiring. As an attorney with a disability myself (Justice Sotomayor has Type I diabetes), I can easily relate to some of her experiences. Her story also shows that, with hard work, passion, and dedication, the possibilities of what a person can accomplish are endless.
What’s a case or client or piece of advocacy that comes to mind as giving you particular personal satisfaction? Why?
Now there are many kids with disabilities who participate in the high school track wheelchair division across Minnesota.
I have worked on a number of important cases in the 11 years that I have been at the Minnesota Disability Law Center. It is difficult to pick out just one case because so many give me personal satisfaction. Here are two:
I represented a group of deaf teenagers who tried to enroll in driver-education courses at a number of different driving schools in central Minnesota and requested that the schools provide American Sign Language interpreters for the courses. The schools refused to provide the ASL interpreters. We sued the schools, and, after the lawsuit was filed, we were able to negotiate a settlement with the schools where the schools agreed to provide ASL interpreters to our clients and other deaf students enrolled in their driver-education courses.
I also represented a young woman with a spinal-cord injury who wanted to participate on her high school track team. Before her freshman year, her high school informed her that she would not be able to participate on the team because the state high school league did not have a wheelchair track division. We sued the high school league and then negotiated a settlement where it created a wheelchair track division. Now there are many kids with disabilities who participate in the high school track wheelchair division across Minnesota.
What’s one of your guilty pleasures?
It’s hard for me to pass up sweets, especially chocolate chip cookies. I need to have a healthier and balanced diet, but my wife makes delicious chocolate chip cookies. I just can’t help myself to one or two or three.