On July 26, 2021, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) turns 31. Featured on this page is a profile series highlighting the successful careers and contributions of current Sidley lawyers and professional staff with disabilities. We invite you to read their inspiring stories to learn more about their professional and personal accomplishments, advice, and contributions to the community of people with disabilities.
Ralph F. Antonioli is a Paralegal in the Litigation group of the Chicago office. He focuses his work on labor, employment and immigration matters. Ralph, who was born in South America, speaks five languages fluently and already provided assistance to various teams with legal matters in Italian and Spanish. He was recently admitted to the D.C. Bar.
“Most of us who live with a permanent disability only want a shot like everyone else, and it indeed makes me smile to know that the ADA has played, and continues to play, a major role in making this happen.”
How long have you been a paralegal at Sidley?
I have been a paralegal with Sidley in Chicago since August 2020, but I’ve been in the legal field for nearly 25 years, both abroad and most recently in the U.S. (I became a practicing attorney in my country of birth at the “innocent” age of 21).
Ernesto R. Claeyssen is an associate in the Litigation group in the New York office. He focuses his practice on commercial litigation and disputes, which includes the representation of individual and corporate clients in complex commercial litigation matters, white collar criminal matters, government investigations, privacy and cybersecurity matters, and regulatory enforcement actions.
“Even though the ADA was a major milestone for the disability movement, the ADA needs major improvements in eradicating the digital divide that currently exists due to technology.”
Tell us about a professional goal you are proud of achieving, and what (or who) inspired you to go for it.
While in law school, my note, “Buy It on the ‘Gram: The Need to Extend the Americans with Disabilities Act to the E-Commerce World,” was published in the Rutgers University Law Review. Even though the ADA was a major milestone for the disability movement, the ADA needs major improvements in eradicating the digital divide that currently exists due to technology, which prevents people with disabilities from achieving true equality.
Elizabeth Hardcastle is an associate in the Healthcare practice in the Washington, D.C. office. She focuses her practice on healthcare regulatory and compliance matters, including strategic counseling in connection with public policy proposals and implementation issues. Beth competed on the U.S. Paralympic Swim Team in the 2008 Beijing Paralympics.
“I am so grateful for the advocates who came before me and made the ADA possible. In addition to their critical work in getting the ADA and similar disability rights laws passed, my life is enriched by the disability community they helped create.”
What attracted you to the practice of law and what aspect of your practice do you enjoy the most?
My firsthand experiences with the healthcare system as a wheelchair user gave me a lasting passion for finding new policy solutions. During college, I spent a summer interning on Capitol Hill and saw how impactful the policy and legal side of healthcare could be, which led me to law school and Sidley. I enjoy translating this original passion into my life sciences regulatory practice, advising emerging and established life sciences clients on the complex and ever-changing healthcare legal landscape.