Ira Burnim recently retired from his longstanding position as Legal Director of the Judge David L. Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law in Washington, D.C. He has represented thousands of adults and children diagnosed with psychiatric disabilities in class action suits around the nation and has litigated precedent-setting cases on mental health and child welfare system reform, managed health care, and the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Active in numerous Supreme Court cases: Ira spearheaded the disability community's efforts in Olmstead, and has played a key role in many of the major ADA Title II cases that have come before the Court. He is recognized nationally for his expertise in policy and legal issues related to the ADA, community mental health care, Medicaid, and children's issues. He presents frequently at national conferences, and consults with federal agencies, state policy makers, foundations, and advocates. Working with Mental Disability Rights International, Ira has advised advocates and policy makers in Hungary, the Czech Republic, Albania, Romania, Ukraine, and Japan.
He has served on the boards of the American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland and the National Coalition for Child Protection Reform, the editorial advisory board of the American Bar Association's Mental and Physical Disability Law Reporter, and the National Advisory Committee to the Research and Training Center on Parent Support and Children's Mental Health.
A magna cum laude graduate of Harvard Law School, Ira joined the Bazelon Center in 1988. He was formerly the Legal Director of the Children's Defense Fund, an attorney at the Southern Poverty Law Center in Montgomery, Alabama, and law clerk to U.S. District Judge Frank M. Johnson, Jr., in Montgomery, Alabama. In addition to his other talents, Ira has won a national bass fishing competition.