Introducing Andrew Maurer and the Pitt Family Opportunity Scholarship for Individuals with Disabilities
Written by Jeffrey Garland on July 31st, 2023
At the end of his arduous first year of law school at Wayne, Andrew Maurer was seriously contemplating giving up his dream of becoming a lawyer. Many law school graduates will tell you that the first year is always the toughest, but for Andrew, who was born with spastic cerebral palsy and has issues with mobility, the challenge was even more difficult, and the road ahead seemed even more unyielding. It was then, in this moment of self-doubt, that Andrew met Michael and Peggy Pitt, two successful attorneys who have been championing accessibility at Wayne Law since 2001. As Andrew tells it, they gave him a pat on the back when he needed it most and encouraged him to keep going despite the challenges ahead. To further show their support, the Pitt’s also awarded Andrew a scholarship. In reflecting on this moment years later, Andrew told me that, “[the scholarship] is not about the money, per se. It’s about the sense of belonging, about being believed-in when self-belief is low.” Ultimately, with the support of the Pitt’s, Andrew regained his self-belief and graduated cum laude from Wayne Law in 2007.
Upon graduation and passage of the bar exam, Andrew’s networking plan was, basically, to find another attorney in a wheelchair and learn from them—like an apprentice—about how to navigate the professional legal community with a physical disability. Fifteen years later, Andrew still hasn’t found the mentor that he’s been looking for. Nevertheless, Andrew has become a successful attorney in his own right while continuing to be a devoted advocate for the differently-abled community. An expert in securing public benefits, Andrew is about to celebrate his 5-year anniversary at Lakeshore Legal Aid, a nonprofit dedicated to providing legal assistance to indigent, disabled, and elderly clients. As a staff attorney, Andrew also advises on other legal-aid matters, including family law, landlord/tenant, and debt collection. During the pandemic, Lakeshore allowed him to start working from home full-time, and now, thanks to new technology and the acceptance of that technology by the courts, Andrew continues to be more productive than ever before as a hybrid remote worker. Indeed, as he’s realized himself, Andrew has become the mentor that he’s been looking for since graduation and wants to be there to support differently-abled law students and aspiring lawyers going forward.
Andrew’s story exemplifies the Pitt’s vision for Wayne Law as a place where having a physical disability is not an impediment to fully pursuing a legal education and career. To foster this vision, the Pitt Family has made a generous donation to establish a fund for the purpose of providing scholarships and opportunities to differently-abled Wayne Law students. Moreover, another fund that the Pitt’s established in 2004 will also be used to support accessibility improvements to the law school facilities, including the installation of accessible workstations in classrooms and the purchase of adaptive equipment/technology to ensure that students needing accommodations will have them at Wayne Law. More information on the Pitt Family Opportunity Scholarship for Individuals with Disabilities can be found on the Law School’s website, at this link. You can follow Andrew on Twitter @TheWheelAJM.