Episode 049 – Conversation with T.K. Small, Class of 1993.mp3
A recent post at Simple Justice titled Haiti: No Call For Lawyers laments the limited role that lawyers can play when disaster strikes, offering the observation “Notice how important Doctors Without Borders is in a disaster. Notice there is no Lawyers Without Borders?” Observing that emergent desperation calls for certain abilities, the post states that lawyers cannot offer the help that people need in their desperation, whether it is in easing their pain, feeding the hungry children or building them shelter. Simply stated, the lawyer’s skills are limited in the midst of catastrophes like those in Haiti. While the WSJ Law Blog has a post called BigLaw (Still) Stepping Up on Haiti Aid, most of that aid has come in the form of donations to organizations like Doctors Without Borders and the American Red Cross.
For a different view of what lawyers can do to help with human tragedies, see the article by Michael Boyajian on the NY political blog called Room Eight which tells how one graduate of Brooklyn Law School is making a difference. The article, Brooklyn Attorney Helps Forgotten Victims of the Haitian Earthquake, describes the efforts of Thomas K. Small, Class of 1993, to work with Portlight Strategies to meet the specific needs of underserved, unserved and forgotten victims of the quake, the disabled.
T.K. Small operates a law office in Brooklyn Heights. He specializes in helping people with disabilities, whether receiving homecare under the Medicaid program or gaining access to governmental services or public entities. His motto, “Think Big, Call Small”, comes from his own personal experience fighting for his own rights as a disabled person with Muscular Dystrophy which might easily have led to a life in a nursing home. Instead, T.K. wanted to go to college and, although he was accepted into Hofstra University, he was denied admission to the dorms because of the medical device on his back. Instead of suing Hofstra, T.K. attended SUNY Farmingdale and went on to SUNY Albany eventually graduating from Long Island University’s Brooklyn campus and later from Brooklyn Law SchoolAs Boyajian notes in his article about T.K., “Rather than make the big bucks as a corporate attorney T.K. choose to help those in need. He is famous in Brooklyn for helping to get wheelchair lifts installed on MTA buses. He did this with some friends also in wheelchairs who blocked one downtown Brooklyn street in the 1990s with their chairs bringing rush hour traffic to a grinding halt. Soon after, lifts were installed on MTA buses. . . In other instances though people will tell him that he is a miracle and heroic and that is the contrasts T.K. lives within his most fulfilling of lives.”
TK stopped by the library to have a conversation about his efforts on behalf of Haitians with disabilities during the current crisis there. He also talked about his practice on behalf of the disabled as well as his radio program on WBAI called The Largest Minority. He plans to participate in the Haitian Relief effort organized by BLS students scheduled for February 18.