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Disability Law Center Inc.

 11 Beacon Street, Suite 925
 Boston, MA 02108
[P] (617) 723-8455
[F] (617) 723-9125
Christine M. Griffin
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 Printable Profile (Summary / Full)
EIN 04-2741869

LAST UPDATED: 01/07/2019
Organization DBA --
Former Names Developmental Disabilities Law Center (1986)
Organization received a competitive grant from the Boston Foundation in the past five years No



Mission StatementMORE »

The Disability Law Center provides legal advocacy on disability issues that promote the fundamental rights of all people with disabilities to participate fully and equally in the social and economic life of Massachusetts. 

Mission Statement

The Disability Law Center provides legal advocacy on disability issues that promote the fundamental rights of all people with disabilities to participate fully and equally in the social and economic life of Massachusetts. 

FinancialsMORE »

Fiscal Year Oct 01, 2014 to Sept 30, 2015
Projected Income $2,636,000.00
Projected Expense $2,628,000.00

ProgramsMORE »

  • Special Education Outreach Project

Revenue vs. Expense ($000s)

Expense Breakdown 2014 (%)

Expense Breakdown 2013 (%)

Expense Breakdown 2012 (%)

For more details regarding the organization's financial information, select the financial tab and review available comments.


Mission Statement

The Disability Law Center provides legal advocacy on disability issues that promote the fundamental rights of all people with disabilities to participate fully and equally in the social and economic life of Massachusetts. 

Background Statement

The Disability Law Center (DLC) is the designated Protection and Advocacy (“P&A”) agency in Massachusetts with the authority under federal law to pursue legal, administrative and other appropriate remedies to safeguard and advance the rights of individuals with disabilities within the Commonwealth. In addition to being the state’s P&A system, over its 32 year history, DLC has functioned as a private, non-profit public interest law firm providing free legal representation, information, training, and technical assistance to individuals with disabilities and their families, private attorneys and advocates. We also receive funding from the Massachusetts Legal Assistance Corporation, which has, like awards to other MLAC grantees, been cut by approximately 65% in recent years.

Our program employs a broad range of strategic advocacy approaches, including, as needed, individual representation, class actions and other impact litigation, legislative, administrative and other systemic advocacy, and community legal education in all of our key practice areas. This large and varied “toolbox” allows us to deploy targeted and complementary advocacy strategies to address complex legal problems for and with people with disabilities.

DLC currently has a staff of twenty, twelve of whom are attorneys. Divided into advocacy teams, DLC staff work in the areas of special education, civil rights (housing, employment, public accommodations and government benefits), health and benefits, and rights of people living in facilities.

 Within those areas, people with disabilities and their families and advocates direct the work that DLC does by setting yearly priorities, and through an active advisory panel that meets on a monthly basis. DLC also has an active Board consisting of seventeen individuals, seven of whom are members of the disability community.  DLC is a state-wide program with offices in Boston and Northampton.

Impact Statement

(1) DLC is preparing to settle a major federal court case brought to challenge the state's practice of holding prisoners with serious mental illness in prolonger solitary confinement, for months or years at a time;
(2) Building on past experience and successes in both individual and impact litigation, DLC has worked with others to roll out an online Transition Manual, and has taken a leadership role in two bills in the legislature aimed at helping young people moving from special education to integrated employment, independent living and/or post secondary education.
(3) DLC's new Cross Disability Advocacy Coalition (CDAC) has brought together a unique coalition of advocates with disabilities and grassroots organizations working on major policy initiatives of interest to all, e.g., mass transit services, bullying in schools and the workplace, etc.
(4) Major outreach projects have been begun to examine human rights and quality of treatment issues in facilities serving people with intellectual disabilities, psychiatric disabilities and traumatic brain injury.  These projects involve using DLC's federal monitoring authority, conducting monitoring visits, interviewing clients, developing recommendations, and advocating on behalf of facility residents.
For Program Goals, please see Executive Director comments under "Other Documents."

Needs Statement

1. Funding for a Development Director, and/or technical assistance in developing our donor base, working on our annual Gala, and cultivating other sources for donations.  (Est. cost, FT time consultant for 12 mos:   $60,000.)
2. Managing Attorney, to assist with legal supervision, legal management and grant reporting. (Est. cost, FT (w/ fringe & benefits) for 12 mos: $150,000.)
3. Volunteers to assist with donor relations and fundraising, grant development, publications, social media, etc. (No cost).
4.  General support funding.  (Our funding is largely grant driven and both state and federal grants have been cut or at best level funded.  The lack of funding that is not earmarked has made it more challenging to respond to emerging issues and maintain flexibility in supervising staff and serving clients). ($100,000.)
5. Volunteer Attorneys (preferably retired attorneys or others with significant legal experience, to assist with both individual representation and systemic advocacy). (No cost).

CEO Statement

  • DLC is the federally designated “Protection and Advocacy” (“P&A”) for the Commonwealth of Mass. This means we have unique powers and responsibilities under federal law to investigate abuse and neglect and provide free legal advocacy oversight and monitoring for people with disabilities that are “stuck away” in institutions who are often abused and neglected. We also represent people with disabilities living in the community.
  • We cover the entire state and serve people with all disabilities, and never charge for our services.

  • The range if issues we work in include health and benefits, special education, housing and employment discrimination, ADA access, voting rights, government services, and rights of people living in institutions.

  • For example, we provide legal advocacy to thousands of families who have children with disabilities who are having a difficult time getting necessary school services and supports. We also help families who have kids with disabilities who are bullied in school

  • We  provide training to businesses around ADA issues; e.g. The Boston Red Sox .

  • We provide advocacy to families who have medically fragile kids who need Private Duty Nursing staff to remain at home.

  • We testify on behalf of our clients at the State House, as well as help draft or support legislation such as Bridges to Success, AAIDD Bill to assist young people of transition age.

  • We provide legal advice to thousands of people around disability benefits at no cost.  We have provided relief to thousands of individuals in the commonwealth who have been stuck in nursing
    homes as well as other large state institutions

Board Chair Statement

Geographic Area Served

In a specific U.S. city, cities, state(s) and/or region.
City of Boston- Citywide (please select all areas as well)
City of Boston- Allston/ Brighton
City of Boston- Back Bay
City of Boston- Beacon Hill/ West End
City of Boston- Charlestown
City of Boston- Chinatown/ Leather District
City of Boston- North Dorchester
City of Boston- South Dorchester
City of Boston- Downtown
City of Boston- East Boston
City of Boston- Fenway/ Kenmore
City of Boston- Hyde Park
City of Boston- Jamaica Plain
City of Boston- Mattapan
City of Boston- Mission Hill
City of Boston- North End
City of Boston- Roslindale
City of Boston- Roxbury
City of Boston- South Boston
City of Boston- South End/Bay Village
City of Boston- Harbor Islands
City of Boston- West Roxbury
State of Massachusetts

Organization Categories

  1. Civil Rights, Social Action, Advocacy - Disabled Persons' Rights
  2. -
  3. Public & Societal Benefit - Alliances & Advocacy

Independent research has been conducted on this organization's theory of change or on the effectiveness of this organization's program(s)



Special Education Outreach Project

The Disability Law Center received a grant from the Shapiro Family Foundation to host 6 workshops in low income communities facing lingusitic and cultural barriers to discuss special education law, including transition issues.  These 6 trainings are held in cities around the Greater Boston area and feature both training information and  one-to-one legal clinics.  The clinics are an opportunity for parents of children with special education needs to meet with an attorney from the Disability Law Center.  The attorney will answer some basic questions from the parent and determine if more time and full representation is necessary.  These trainings are intented to reach out to individuals who speak English as a second language.   This project also includes other work, including creating videos in ASL and other languages for our online Transition Manual, and updating our Transition Manual.
Budget  .15 FTE (est.)
Category  Education, General/Other Special Education
Population Served Immigrant, Newcomers, Refugees Latin America & the Caribbean Elderly and/or Disabled
Program Short-Term Success 
This round of community based trainings has just begun, but has been developed folowing many successful training in low income communities speaking Spanish, Haitian-Creole, Khmer, Chinese, Portuguese, etc.  All trainings are done in close collaboration with grassroots community partners.  We have already completed our first training event and have received good feedback.
Program Long-Term Success 
--Adding videos in ASL and other languages to our online Transition Manual, available at
--Updating our Transition Manual (Summer 2012)
--Capacity building in low income communities facing cultural barriers
Program Success Monitored By 
Formal and informal evaluations of all workshops.
Examples of Program Success 
--Providing basic information on obligations of schools and adult service providers to provide transition services;
--Assisting with other immediate questions of parents with children in the special education system;
--Re-introducing individuals and organizations in underserved communities to the Disability Law Center;
--Building capacity in those communities by helping staff of grassroots organizations understand how to triage legal problems and when to refer clients for legal assistance;
--Building new collaborations and partnerships with grassroots organizations;
--Listening to problems encountered in those communities, so as to inform DLC's systemic advocacy (e.g., We are now working on addressing a state educational agency that has inadequate resources for serving non-English speaking callers);
--Introducing participants and organizations to DLC's new online Transition Manual.

CEO/Executive Director/Board Comments

 Transition services is only one of many issues in which DLC has taken a leadership role in the disability rights community.

 Parents, students and advocates for education and employment of people with disabilities have increasingly focused on the need for secondary schools to provide transition services. Across the Commonwealth, districts continue to push students with disabilities out the schoolhouse door when they have passed high stakes testing and traditional academic requirements. However, recent amendments to the IDEA make clear that federal law require school districts to go further, to provide students with disabilities with transition services such as vocational training, job and life skills, language pragmatics and social skills. Many students with disabilities, such as students with Asperger’s, may be able to meet academic requirements, but may be completely unprepared for independent living, the workplace, or higher education without these transition services. 

The social science literature has clearly established that these skills have an enormous effect on subsequent economic and social independence, and that there is a limited window of time for these skills to be readily acquired. Students who do not receive effective transition services during their “window of opportunity” are statistically more likely to be unemployed and enter the “schoolhouse-to-jailhouse” pipeline.

In addition to the project described above, in working on outreach to underserved communities, we have employed a number of other advocacy strategies.  Our office represents individual students and parents who are being denied transition services.  We also co-counseled the landmark Dracut decision in federal court, which helped clarify the obligations of school districts. This year we have also championed the “Bridges to Success” bill pending in the state legislature, which would strengthen connections between schools and adult services agencies, and also legislation to require a more equitable and clinically supported standard for eligibility for services from the Department of Developmental Services (DDS).
DLC is engaged in a range of similar work in such areas as health care, employment discrimination, housing discrimination, ADA access, voting rights, governmental services, and rights of people with disabilities living in nursing homes, institutions for people with psychiatric or developmental disabilities, prisons and jails etc.


CEO/Executive Director Ms. Christine M. Griffin
CEO Term Start Jan 2013
CEO Email
CEO Experience --
Co-CEO --
Co-CEO Term Start --
Co-CEO Email --
Co-CEO Experience --

Former CEOs and Terms

Name Start End
-- -- --

Senior Staff

Name Title Experience/Biography
-- -- --


Award Awarding Organization Year
-- -- --


Affiliation Year
-- --
Member of state association of nonprofits? No
Name of state association --

External Assessments and Accreditations

External Assessment or Accreditation Year
-- --



CEO/Executive Director/Board Comments


Foundation Comments


Staff Information

Number of Full Time Staff 17
Number of Part Time Staff 1
Number of Volunteers 0
Number of Contract Staff 0
Staff Retention Rate % 100%

Staff Demographics

Ethnicity African American/Black: 1
Asian American/Pacific Islander: 0
Caucasian: 15
Hispanic/Latino: 2
Native American/American Indian: 0
Other: 0
Other (if specified): --
Gender Female: 10
Male: 8
Not Specified 0

Plans & Policies

Organization has Fundraising Plan? Under Development
Organization has Strategic Plan? Yes
Years Strategic Plan Considers 5
Management Succession Plan --
Business Continuity of Operations Plan --
Organization Policies And Procedures Yes
Nondiscrimination Policy Yes
Whistle Blower Policy Yes
Document Destruction Policy Yes
Directors and Officers Insurance Policy Yes
State Charitable Solicitations Permit --
State Registration --

Risk Management Provisions


Reporting and Evaluations

Management Reports to Board? Yes
CEO Formal Evaluation and Frequency Yes Annually
Senior Management Formal Evaluation and Frequency Yes Annually
Non Management Formal Evaluation and Frequency Yes Annually


Board Chair Ms. Carol Steinberg
Board Chair Company Affiliation No Affiliation
Board Chair Term Oct 2013 - Oct 2015
Board Co-Chair --
Board Co-Chair Company Affiliation --
Board Co-Chair Term -

Board Members

Name Company Affiliations Status
Mr. William Alpine Community Volunteer Voting
Mr. Joe Ambash Fisher and Phillips LLP Voting
Mr. George Atanasov Mintz Levin Voting
Ms. Thoraya Benotmane Community Volunteer Voting
Mr. John Folcarelli Community Volunteer Voting
Ms. Liz Goulart Community Volunteer Voting
Mr. Chris Hart Institute for Human Centered Design Voting
Ms. Shey Jaboin Community Volunteer Voting
Mr. Ken Lemanski Community Volunteer Voting
Ms. Linda Long-Bellil Community Volunteer Voting
Mr. Scott Semel Community Volunteer Voting
Ms. Carol Steinberg Community Volunteer Voting
Ms. Jane Wiseman Community Volunteer Voting

Constituent Board Members

Name Company Affiliations Status
-- -- --

Youth Board Members

Name Company Affiliations Status
-- -- --

Advisory Board Members

Name Company Affiliations Status
-- -- --

Board Demographics

Ethnicity African American/Black: 1
Asian American/Pacific Islander: 1
Caucasian: 13
Hispanic/Latino: 0
Native American/American Indian: 0
Other: 0
Other (if specified): --
Gender Female: 6
Male: 7
Not Specified 0

Board Information

Board Term Lengths 3
Board Term Limits 3
Board Meeting Attendance % 82%
Written Board Selection Criteria Under Development
Written Conflict Of Interest Policy Yes
Percentage of Monetary Contributions 100%
Percentage of In-Kind Contributions --
Constituency Includes Client Representation Yes

Standing Committees


CEO/Executive Director/Board Comments


Foundation Comments



Revenue vs. Expense ($000s)

Expense Breakdown 2014 (%)

Expense Breakdown 2013 (%)

Expense Breakdown 2012 (%)

Fiscal Year Oct 01, 2014 to Sept 30, 2015
Projected Income $2,636,000.00
Projected Expense $2,628,000.00
Form 990s

2014 990

2013 990

2012 990

2011 990

2010 990

2009 990

Audit Documents

2013 Audit

2012 Audit

2011 Audit

2010 Audit

2009 Audit

IRS Letter of Exemption

IRS Letter of Determination

Prior Three Years Total Revenue and Expense Totals

Fiscal Year 2014 2013 2012
Total Revenue $2,557,022 $2,453,197 $2,646,749
Total Expenses $2,553,004 $2,423,242 $2,557,492

Prior Three Years Revenue Sources

Fiscal Year 2014 2013 2012
Foundation and
Corporation Contributions
$417,650 $387,410 $357,353
Government Contributions $2,063,500 $1,944,862 $1,642,574
    Federal $1,888,832 $1,765,180 $1,618,803
    State -- -- --
    Local -- -- --
    Unspecified $174,668 $179,682 $23,771
Individual Contributions $11,500 $60,000 $44,300
Indirect Public Support $53,466 $55,022 $56,673
Earned Revenue $7,228 $2,550 $451,386
Investment Income, Net of Losses $3,678 $3,353 $4,370
Membership Dues -- -- --
Special Events -- -- $90,093
Revenue In-Kind -- -- --
Other -- -- --

Prior Three Years Expense Allocations

Fiscal Year 2014 2013 2012
Program Expense $2,041,675 $1,916,203 $1,952,136
Administration Expense $474,057 $452,782 $583,481
Fundraising Expense $37,272 $54,257 $21,875
Payments to Affiliates -- -- --
Total Revenue/Total Expenses 1.00 1.01 1.03
Program Expense/Total Expenses 80% 79% 76%
Fundraising Expense/Contributed Revenue 1% 2% 1%

Prior Three Years Assets and Liabilities

Fiscal Year 2014 2013 2012
Total Assets $1,900,374 $1,896,577 $1,855,089
Current Assets $1,900,374 $1,896,577 $1,855,089
Long-Term Liabilities $0 $0 $0
Current Liabilities $271,948 $272,169 $260,636
Total Net Assets $1,628,426 $1,624,408 $1,594,453

Prior Three Years Top Three Funding Sources

Fiscal Year 2014 2013 2012
1st (Source and Amount) -- --
-- --
-- --
2nd (Source and Amount) -- --
-- --
-- --
3rd (Source and Amount) -- --
-- --
-- --

Financial Planning

Endowment Value --
Spending Policy --
Percentage(If selected) --
Credit Line No
Reserve Fund Yes
How many months does reserve cover? --

Capital Campaign

Are you currently in a Capital Campaign? No
Capital Campaign Purpose --
Campaign Goal --
Capital Campaign Dates -
Capital Campaign Raised-to-Date Amount --
Capital Campaign Anticipated in Next 5 Years? --

Short Term Solvency

Fiscal Year 2014 2013 2012
Current Ratio: Current Assets/Current Liabilities 6.99 6.97 7.12

Long Term Solvency

Fiscal Year 2014 2013 2012
Long-term Liabilities/Total Assets 0% 0% 0%

CEO/Executive Director/Board Comments


Foundation Comments

Financial summary data in the charts and graphs above are per the organization's IRS Form 990s. Further revenue breakout detail, for Foundation and Corporation and government sources was obtained from the Schedule B documents from the Form 990s.


Other Documents

No Other Documents currently available.


The Impact tab is a section on the Giving Common added in October 2013; as such the majority of nonprofits have not yet had the chance to complete this voluntary section. The purpose of the Impact section is to ask five deceptively simple questions that require reflection and promote communication about what really matters – results. The goal is to encourage strategic thinking about how a nonprofit will achieve its goals. The following Impact questions are being completed by nonprofits slowly, thoughtfully and at the right time for their respective organizations to ensure the most accurate information possible.

1. What is your organization aiming to accomplish?


2. What are your strategies for making this happen?


3. What are your organization’s capabilities for doing this?


4. How will your organization know if you are making progress?


5. What have and haven’t you accomplished so far?