Ira M. Belfer Lecture: The Invisible Labor of Being Disabled and Facilitating Access


Elizabeth F. Emens
Thomas M. Macioce Professor of Law
Columbia Law School 

About the Lecture

Professor Emens will argue that disability law has failed to account for a form of labor that especially burdens people with disabilities: the day-to-day tasks such as managing bills and other paperwork and scheduling appointments—the “office work of life”—also known as “life admin.” Recognizing the admin labor of being disabled has important implications for legal doctrine, most notably for the analysis of what is a “reasonable” accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Courts have used a cost-benefit framework to determine reasonableness, but they have failed to include the admin costs to individuals in the calculus. Illuminating the admin of being disabled also casts a spotlight on the labor that can be involved in providing accommodations, its unequal burdens within institutions, and the way its distribution and design can increase or diminish access for people with disabilities.
Moderated by Frank Pasquale, Jeffrey D. Forchelli Professor of Law, Brooklyn Law School.
Sponsored by the Center for Health, Science & Public Policy and the Disability and Civil Rights Clinic.


Ira M. Belfer Lecture Series

This lecture series honors Ira M. Belfer ’33, who was a leading practitioner of corporate, real estate, and trust and estates law for more than half a century, a member of the Brooklyn Law School Board of Trustees, and a generous benefactor of the Law School. 

About Elizabeth F. Emens

Elizabeth F. Emens is the Thomas M. Macioce Professor of Law and Director of the Mindfulness Program at Columbia Law School. Professor Emens writes and teaches on disability law, family law, anti-discrimination law, contracts law, and law and sexuality, as well as teaching a practicum on lawyer leadership as part of Columbia Law’s Davis Polk Leadership Initiative. Emens’ scholarly work has appeared in publications including Harvard Law Review, Stanford Law Review, and The Disability Studies Reader.

Emens is the author of The Art of Life Admin: How to Do Less, Do It Better, and Live More (2019), which explores how unseen and unpaid work is a universal problem but a particular burden for disadvantaged and disabled people. She is also co-editor, with Professor Michael Ashley Stein, of Disability and Equality Law (2013). In 2019, Emens delivered the Clifford Chance Thought Leadership Lecture on Diversity.

Emens was a Bigelow Fellow and lecturer in law at the University of Chicago Law School from 2003 to 2005. She clerked for Hon. Robert D. Sack, U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit, from 2002 to 2003. Emens received her B.A. from Yale University, Ph.D. from King’s College, Cambridge, and J.D. from Yale University.


Please use the RSVP link to register to attend this event either in person at Brooklyn Law School or virtually, on Zoom. Virtual attendees will receive the Zoom link shortly before the event.

Please RSVP by Friday, April 7.

Reception to follow lecture.

Visitor COVID-19 Vaccination Policies and Guidelines

Only guests with proof of a primary COVID-19 vaccination series with an FDA-authorized or WHO-listed vaccine may visit the main Law School building (250 Joralemon St.) or our high-rise residential building, Feil Hall (205 State St.). One-time visitors and guests who wish to attend in-person events are also required to provide the security guard on duty at the Law School with proof of vaccination and current identification (including your name, photo, and date of birth).

Please view the Brooklyn Law School (BLS) Visitor COVID-19 Vaccination Policies and Guidelines prior to attending the event for more information and instructions for guests traveling from outside the U.S.


More Information

For general inquiries regarding this event, please contact the Brooklyn Law School Office of Events at or (718) 780-0321.

Requests for a reasonable accommodation, based on a disability, to attend this event should be made to Louise Cohen, Director of Equal Opportunity and Title IX Coordinator, at Please make your request at least 10 days before the event. We will do our best to address accommodation requests made after the 10 days.