Information as to Attorney Paul L. Rein, State Bar No. 43053
Paul Rein has been litigating access cases on behalf of physically disabled persons for the past 45 years of his 50 years as an attorney. (To our knowledge, longer than any other attorney in the United States.) He prepared for the turmoil of litigation by winning the Intercollegiate middleweight boxing championship in 1965 and has been working to assist the Cal Boxing Team ever since.
Paul Rein has authored a leading text on disability access law and litigation, Full and Equal Access: Disabled Rights Litigation in California (Word Association Publishers, 2013), a 475 page book outlining California and Ninth Circuit disability access law, available through Amazon.com. This book was edited by Aaron Clefton.
Education: Phi Beta Kappa undergraduate degree, University of California, Berkeley, 1965; J.D. Boalt Hall, University of California, Berkeley, 1968. Represented Boalt Hall in 1968 California State Moot Court Championships, team winning the Oral Advocacy portion of the competition. Admitted to California Bar and all Federal Courts, January 9, 1969. Trial counsel and appellate co-counsel in the three leading California appellate cases upholding use of private lawsuits for public interest injunctive relief to remove architectural barriers and recover damages for physically disabled persons: James Donald v. Sacramento Valley Bank (1989) 209 Cal.App.3d 1183 (3rd District Court of Appeal), James Donald v. Cafe Royale (1990) 218 Cal.App.3d 168, 266 Cal.Rptr. 804 (1st DCA), and Mark Hankins v. El Torito Restaurants, Inc., et al. (1998) 63 Cal.App.4th 510 (1st DCA).
In Mark Hankins v. El Torito Restaurants, we recovered substantial damages and attorney fees for discrimination against a disabled person who was denied use of both public and “employees” restrooms, and set important California law legal precedent when the published appellate opinion affirmed the trial court judgement. (63 Cal.App.4th 510)
Important precedents were also set by our cases in two published opinions by Northern District Chief Judge Thelton Henderson in Bernard Walker and Christina Adams v. Carnival Cruise Lines, et al., (1999) 63 F.Supp.2d 1083 and (2000) 107 F.Supp.2d 1135, extending ADA coverage to the services of travel agents booking accommodations for disabled persons who request “accessible facilities” and holding that ADA Title III protected persons physically unable to travel to Miami from being required to bring their ADA actions in Florida, despite the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Shute v. Carnival Cruise Lines, Inc. (1991) 499 U.S. 585. Settlement (in conjunction with a Florida class action handled by Matthew Dietz, Esq., of Miami) resulted in making accessible all 15 Carnival Cruise Lines ships operated in American waters, and involving the largest cruise line in the world.
In the second Carnival Cruise Lines opinion ((2000) 107 F.Supp.2d 1135, at 1143), the Court encouraged private lawsuits to enforce the ADA and obtain “private attorney general” attorney’s fees:
There can be no question that the Americans With Disabilities Act, passed in 1990, established as law the nation’s interest in eradicating the bigotry and barriers faced by individuals with disabilities…The ADA creates the possibility that successful plaintiffs may establish permanent changes in the design and physical configuration of structures to better accommodate the disabled. 42 U.S.C. 12101(a)(5). The benefits of such changes clearly redound not only to the plaintiffs themselves, but to similarly situated disabled persons, and the entire society at large. As a result, plaintiffs or plaintiff classes who bring suit pursuant to the ADA do so in the role of “private attorneys general” who seek to vindicate “a policy of the highest priority.”
For example, successful ADA plaintiffs confer a tremendous benefit upon our society at large, in addition to the attainment of redress for their personal individual injuries…[T]he enforcement of civil rights statutes by plaintiffs as private attorneys general is an important part of the underlying policy behind the law. Such a policy ensures an incentive for “impecunious” plaintiffs who can ill afford to litigate their claims against defendants with more resources…”
Paul Rein has published numerous “disabled access” articles encouraging other lawyers to handle public interest disability rights cases, including the pioneer article “Wheelchair Access Litigation,” more than 35 years ago in the CTLA Forum Magazine (June 1982, Vol. XII, No. 5); “Public Interest Law and Attorneys’ Fees,” CTLA Forum Magazine (May 1989); “Enforcing Disabled Access Through Private Lawsuits” (Fall 1996, The Verdict); “Enforcing Disabled Access Through Private Lawsuits: Public Interest Work and Attorney’s Fees” (December 1996) CAOC Forum Magazine, as well as preparing syllabus materials for multiple CAOC seminars. He has lectured to multiple attorney groups and law school seminars, including Boalt Hall, ACCTLA, DREDF, Consumer Attorneys of California (CAOC) and “ATLA” (formerly Association of Trial Lawyers of America, now “AAJ,” American Association for Justice). His work was recognized in the January 1998 California Lawyer magazine article “Fighting for Equal Access,” republished in the Spring 1998 Verdict magazine of the ACCTLA.
Information as to Attorney Aaron Clefton, State Bar No. 318680
Aaron Clefton is the Managing Partner of Rein & Clefton. He has worked in the disability rights field for over thirteen years, including twelve years with Paul Rein as a paralegal. Aaron passed the California Bar Exam in July, 2017. He began practicing alongside Paul as an attorney in December, 2017. Aaron became Paul’s first law partner in his 50 years of practice, on June 1, 2018.
Aaron is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate from the University of Washington, earning double Bachelor of Arts degrees in Political Science and History of Philosophy. Aaron was the editor to Paul Rein’s comprehensive book, “Full and Equal Access: Disabled Rights Litigation in California” (Word Association Publishers, 2013).
Aaron graduated with his Juris Doctorate from John F. Kennedy University, College of Law, in May, 2017, where he was awarded multiple scholarships. These honors included an award for commitment to disability rights advocacy, and two more for academic merit. Aaron was twice competitively selected to participate in John F. Kennedy’s Housing Advocacy Clinic. The Clinic provides law students the opportunity to represent low income tenants, including disabled tenants, about their housing rights.
Although not an architect himself, given his professional background and experience, the California Department of State Architect granted special permission to Aaron to register to take the State of California’s Certified Access Specialist (CASp) exam. California’s CASp program is designed to recognize expertise in disability access regulations, including the State’s disabled access building codes, and ADA access regulations. Aaron received CASp training from Gilda Puente Peters Architects in January, 2017. He is currently studying to take the CASp exam.
Aaron is a lucky husband, and proud father of pre-teen, twin boys. When not representing disabled people during the day, Aaron carries on a family tradition, passed on by his disabled father, for family game nights. He enjoys playing board games and cards with family and friends, ranging from Chess, Euchre, and Bridge, to more contemporary titles like Settlers of Catan, Charterstone, Agricola, and Magic: the Gathering.
Aaron’s passion for disabled rights is inspired by the memory of his father, Kim Clefton, who lived with Limb Girdle Muscular Dystrophy (1950-1993).
Information as to Paralegal Emily O’Donohoe
Emily O’Donohoe has worked as a paralegal with Paul and Aaron since March of 2014. She graduated from Carleton College in 2003 with a B.A. in History, and she received her Juris Doctorate from Northern Illinois University College of Law in 2008, where she was on the Dean’s List both semesters of her third year. Emily was admitted to Illinois State Bar Association in 2008. Prior to her work with the Paul and Aaron, Emily worked as a brief writer for a social security disability advocacy group.
Outside of work, Emily enjoys spending time with her husband and two young children. Her family’s interests include traveling, cooking together, playing games, and soccer.
Information as to Legal Secretary Lia Barrow
Lia Barrow is the newest member of the Rein & Clefton team, working with Paul, Aaron and Emily since 2016. She brings years of community activism, team building, and office administration to the firm. She is proud of the benefit to the community the work at the firm achieves.
Lia is also passionate about eliminating discrimination for women of color in the medical system and supporting the fabulous work of youth empowerment in her role as board member of the Mosaic Project, a non-profit organization that, since 2000, has provided more than 44,000 children and 10,000 adults with immersive, experiential education programs in diversity, empathy, and conflict resolution.