Paula Pearlman

Visiting Associate Professor of Law
Executive Director, Disability Rights Legal Center 

JD, Southwestern University School of Law
BA, University of California, Los Angeles


Paula Pearlman is the Executive Director of the Disability Rights Legal Center, a cross-disability civil rights organization.  The DRLC champions for the civil rights of people with disabilities through advocacy, education and litigation.  The DRLC is comprised of the Cancer Legal Resource Center, a joint program with Loyola Law School Los Angeles, Civil Rights Litigation, Education, Community Advocacy Programs, Inland Empire Program and Pro Bono Services. Prior to her current position at the DRLC, she was the Deputy Director of Advocacy Programs and Director of Litigation.  

Ms. Pearlman is a Visiting Associate Professor of Law at Loyola Law School Los Angeles, teaching Disability Rights Law and Special Education Law and Advocacy, as well as litigation skills.  She also teaches Special Education Law and Advocacy at Loyola Marymount University, Department of Education.

Ms. Pearlman is a litigator, with extensive experience in class action litigation in the areas of disability rights, sex discrimination and immigration law. Ms. Pearlman is a former Supervising Attorney at the California Women's Law Center, where she specialized in sex discrimination in employment, education, and in girls’ athletics. She has a distinguished career of over 30 years in public interest law.

Selected Scholarship

  • Pearlman, Paula. “Hidden Faces of Unemployment.”  Los Angeles Public Interest Law Journal (forthcoming)
  • “Removing Barriers - One Class Action at a Time,” Daily Journal, April 2011.
  • Chapter, Individuals with Cancer in the Workforce and Their Federal Rights (pp. 255-276)
  • Peter Blanck, William N. Myhill, Janikke Solstad Vedeler, Joanna Morales & Paula Pearlman
  • In Cancer Survivorship and Work (M. Feuerstein, ed.) New York, NY: Springer Publishing (2009).
  • “Aging of people with disabilities” The Legal Needs of the Aging Low-Income Population, CLEARINGHOUSE REVIEW: Sept.–Oct. 2008
  • "Letter to a Young Public Interest Attorney.” Los Angeles Public Interest Law Journal Vol. 1 (2008-2009): 325-328.
  • With Longoria, John,“Joining Forces,” ABILITY Magazine, Cheryl Hines Issue 2008: 61
  • With Patkin, Debra, “Opening Doors and Minds.” ABILITY Magazine, Sandra Lee Issue 2008: 30-31
  • With Hill, Eve L., Parks, Shawna, Hill, Thomas, “Is your Health Care System Accessible?” ABILITY Magazine, Laura Innes Issue 2008: 10
  • With Parks, Shawna, “Let’s Vote…By Any Means Necessary!” ABILITY Magazine, Robert Patrick Issue 2008: 14-16
  • With Parks, Shawna. Hill, Eve and Hill, Thomas, “All the World’s A Stage, but How Do I get a Ticket to the Show?” ABILITY Magazine Frankenstein Issue 3, Volume 2007: 8.
  • With Hill, Eve, “Roaring Back at the Zoo” ABILITY Magazine Teri Garr Issue, Volume 2007: 53.
  • With Longoria, John,“Respect-ABILITY Conference” ABILITY Magazine Cheryl/Hines Feb/March Issue, Volume 2007:  61.
  • With Barajas, Maronel and Hill, Eve,“Beyond Special Ed” ABILITY Magazine Special Holly Robinson Peete, Volume 2007: 20.

Public Service

Ms. Pearlman is a member of the California Commission on Access to Justice, Federal Courts Committee (2007-present) and the American Bar Association's Commission on Disability Rights (2011-present). She is the current board chair of the Employment Round Table of Southern California (ERTSC), formerly Southern California Employers Roundtable (SCERT), chair of the Law Students Committee and a board member of the Legal Aid Association of California, a membership organization of IOTLA funded legal services organizations.  She is also a member of the Los Angeles County Bar Association’s Juvenile Courts Task Force Committee. Previously, she was Co-Chair, Lawyer Representatives, Central District, Ninth Circuit Judicial Conference (2008-2009), a member of the California State Bar Standing Committee on the Delivery of Legal Services, and was on the U. S. Access Board, Courthouse Access Advisory Committee.

Ms. Pearlman received the St. Ignatius of Loyola Award in February 2010 from Loyola Law School Los Angeles, and received a “FEHA 50th Anniversary Civil Rights Award” from the Department of Fair Employment and Housing, State of California in November 2009.  Ms. Pearlman has been named as a “Super Lawyer” in the area of public interest law and class actions.  She is the recipient of the 2007 Legal Aid Association of California (LAAC) Attorney Award of Merit Recipient, and a finalist as attorney of the year for Trial Lawyers for Public Justice.  In 2006, Ms. Pearlman was named one of the “Top 75 Women Litigators” inCalifornia by the Daily Journal.  As a new lawyer, Ms. Pearlman was the recipient of the Carol King Award, National Immigration Project, National Lawyer’s Guild, for her work on the nationwide class action, Orantes-Hernandez v. Meese (1987). 

Clinical Achievements

  • August 27, 2012, “Disability Rights in the Clinical Setting” Presentation to Japanese Visiting Scholars
  • April 19, 2012, American Bar Associate “Attorney’s Fees in Disability Rights Cases: Doing Wee by doing Good” Webinar
  • February 10, 2012 Special Education Law Symposium: Examining the IDEA in Theory & Practice, presenter and co-chair.  
  • November 2011, American Bar Association “A Practitioner’s Guide to Disability Awareness” Webinar
  • October 4, 2011, Mediating Disability Rights Cases: Keys To Successful Resolution, co-presenter
  • August 15, 2011, Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, LLP Elimination of Bias presentation
  • July 13, 2011, American Council of the Blind “Accessing Medical Information and Maintaining Our Privacy as Blind Consumers”
  • July 13, 2011, American Council of the Blind “ADA Update”, presenter–
  • July 8, 2011, China Disabled Persons Federation Presentation, co-presenter
  • June 22, 2011, Federal Courtroom Deputies Training on Disability Accommodations
  • March 11, 2011, Fiesta Educativa, “How to Read an IEP and Your Rights under the IDEA”
  • February 25, 2011, Disability Rights Law Symposium, Washington College of Law, Special Education in Custodial Settings….Successful Litigation Strategies
  • November 5, 2010, Chicago, IL. Speaker at American Bar Association’s Labor and Employment Conference. Topic title: "A Practical Guide to Finding and Managing Disability Accommodations."
  • May 2010, Baltimore, MD “Accommodating Students with Disabilities in Legal Clinical Settings,” American Association of Law Schools Clinical Legal Conference, co-presenter
  • MCLE Speaker including Elimination of Bias in the Legal Profession, Disability Rights, Cancer Rights, Special Education Law and Advocacy, Sex Discrimination and Employment Law Issues (1994-present)
  • State Bar of California Annual Meetings: Housing Discrimination and Disabilities; US Supreme Court Round Up and Disabilities; Legal Issues Related to Cancer.