Lisa Douglass is a lecturer-in-law and supervising attorney in the Community Law Clinic in East Palo Alto where she directs the Clinic’s Social Security Disability practice. Lisa supervises clinical law students in their representation of clients with severe mental and physical disabilities at hearings to obtain federal disability benefits. She works with students as they develop the cases from initial investigation to final written and oral advocacy. She also supervises student work in the Clinic’s other practice areas, such as housing matters. Lisa also co-teaches the seminar and workshop portions of the clinic, training on issues of trial advocacy, client-centered lawyering, and other topics.
Lisa is also the director of the SLS Social Security Disability Pro Bono Project, through which students assist homeless and formerly homeless clients apply for disability benefits. The project sessions take place at the Opportunity Services Center of the Mid-Peninsula, a homeless drop-in service center and housing facility in Palo Alto.
Lisa began her career serving as a public defender in Seattle, initially representing juveniles in criminal proceedings and, later, adults in felony trials. As a public defender, Lisa was known for her compassionate and zealous advocacy on behalf of her clients and her success in obtaining drastically reduced sentences for mentally-ill defendants. She partnered with a social worker to develop community-based treatment plans that judges could choose as alternatives to incarceration. She later left the public defender’s office to join a plaintiff’s/public interest law firm where she represented indigent clients in Social Security Disability hearings and appeals, ensuring that basic needs such as living stipends and medical benefits could be covered for the rest of her clients’ lives. Lisa joined the Law School in 2007.