Earlier this month at the 2018 American Bar Association (ABA) annual meeting in Chicago, the Tort Trial and Insurance Practice Section (TIPS) – in partnership with Thomson Reuters – presented its 10th annual Liberty Achievement Award to recognize lawyers and judges who demonstrate leadership by actively promoting diversity in the legal profession.

Kathleen Dillon Narko, a Clinical Professor of Law at Northwestern Pritzker School of Law, was honored for serving as a champion for the needs of law students with disabilities.

“Professor Dillon Narko is an example of someone who has demonstrated her passion for diversity and inclusion through her extraordinary efforts to create a more inclusive and supportive environment for individuals living with disabilities,” said Sharon Sayles Belton, vice president of Government Affairs & Community Relations for Thomson Reuters, as she presented the award. “She has applied her intellectual gifts and force of will to help elevate public awareness and to eliminate the barriers to their success.”

Professor Narko said she was gratified that the TIPS committee recognized disability as a part of diversity, further noting that census data shows nearly one in five people in the U.S. has a disability.

“The legal profession loses when it fails to promote lawyers with disabilities. It loses the insight of persons with disabilities and a talented pool of candidates,” Narko said.

What’s more, according to a survey from the National Association for Law Placement, law students with disabilities are less likely to be employed at graduation and have lower median salaries than other law school graduates.

She concluded by encouraging all employers to not only make necessary accommodations for those with disabilities, but to also take further steps to include individuals with disabilities in diversity programs and affinity groups.

“As I have seen with my own students, persons with disabilities will surprise you with their creativity and ability to overcome challenges,” she said.

Prior to teaching law, Professor Narko practiced with a large law firm, concentrating in the areas of commercial litigation and environmental, safety and health law. She was also active in pro bono litigation, including lending discrimination and political asylum matters. She is a member of the Chicago Bar Association, where she currently serves on the Editorial Board of the CBA Record. She also serves on the Board of Advisors of Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Chicago, where she is a member of the Legal Advisory Committee. She also serves as a member of the Leadership Council of the National Immigrant Justice Center.

Professor Narko received her J.D. from Cornell Law School, where she was articles editor for the Cornell International Law Journal. She earned her bachelor’s degree in history, cum laude, from Yale University, and completed post-baccalaureate studies at Salzburg College in Austria.

The ABA Tort Trial and Insurance Practice Section has over 20,000 members and more than 30 general committees that focus on substantive and procedural matters in areas across the broad spectrum of civil law and practice.

Thomson Reuters has sponsored the TIPS annual Liberty Achievement Award since its inception in 2008.

To see past TIPS Liberty Achievement Award winners, click here.


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