The MLO Minute: “Dennis McAndrews Presents to Villanova Law Students About Careers in Disability Law”
Dennis McAndrews recently spoke at the invitation of faculty and students at the Villanova University Charles Widger School of Law concerning his career in education law and his work on behalf of individuals with disabilities. Approximately 75 students and faculty attended this panel discussion. Dennis was asked to describe the trajectory of his legal career and in particular the manner by which he became involved in disability law, and how his law firm grew from being a sole practitioner to one of the largest firms in suburban Philadelphia.
Dennis’ history in this field began when he was tapped to serve as the Executive Director and Staff Counsel to a Select Committee of the Pennsylvania Senate which was investigating the system of care for individuals with intellectual disabilities. Dennis traveled the state and visited 130 facilities, interviewed hundreds of consumers and families, and conducted multiple public hearings before drafting proposed legislation and writing a comprehensive report with recommendations to improve the system of care and treatment in the Commonwealth.
Following that work with the legislative branch, Dennis formed his own part-time practice of law while returning to work for the Delaware County District Attorneys Office. His private work expanded from primarily wills, estates, trusts, and guardianships into work on behalf of children with disabilities in the realm of special education. In 1995, Dennis left the District Attorneys Office – with a 1 1/2 year return to serve as a Special Prosecutor with First Assistant Joseph McGettigan in the murder trial of millionaire John Dupont – to enter the full-time practice of law.
The firm has continually grown, with new partners who now form the law office of McAndrews, Mehalick, Connolly, Hulse and Ryan, P.C. and now has 18 attorneys with multiple offices in Pennsylvania, Delaware, and The Metropolitan Washington D.C. area.
Also serving on the panel with Dennis were Susan Smith, Esq., counsel to Temple University, and Andrew Schweizer, Esq. of Media, Pennsylvania, each of whom provided unique and valuable insights into their own work at the university level and on behalf of individuals with disabilities.