The Spinal Cord Injury Law Firm has many incredible staff members that help our firm excel on a day-to-day basis. This week, we want to highlight our newest Legal Intern Carly Verbeke, who is an indispensable member of our team.
Carly is currently pursuing Masters degrees in English and Disability Studies at Arizona State University. After graduating from ASU, Carly aims to attend Stanford Law School to become a disability lawyer. As an intern at The Spinal Cord Injury Law Firm, Carly writes articles about disabilities and disability law, and also conducts research for potential litigation and other cases.
Read our Q&A below to learn more about Carly!
“My name is Carly Verbeke, I am 24 years old, and I was born with cerebral palsy. My twin and I were born two months early and had a laundry list of health problems as a result. One of mine included hydrocephaly, which just means that I had extra water on my brain. The surgery they did to treat the hydrocephaly caused my brain to bleed, which ultimately led to the cerebral palsy. As a result, I’ve been in a wheelchair for my entire life. I’m actually not bitter about that, though, being in a wheelchair has given me a great perspective on life. It might also be important to note here that I’m originally from Michigan, but I moved to Arizona two years ago.”
“My decision to go into law is actually a funny story, in my opinion. Because I grew up as a wheelchair user, it felt like everyone in my life was telling me I should be an advocate. “Who is better qualified to advocate for people with disabilities than you? You live it every day. That’s your calling,” they would say. My dad specifically would tell me that I needed to be a lawyer. But, because these things were expected of me, they were the last thing I wanted to do. As I got older, though, it became apparent to me that no one else was really willing to fix the blatant inequalities that the disabled community was still facing on a daily basis. Eventually I just took initiative for myself.”
“Honestly, I think I’m on my ideal path right now. In my initial interview with Kelley [Simoneaux] and Josh [Basile], they talked about how their goal was to build The Spinal Cord Injury Law Firm around employees with different disabilities, and I thought “this is it. This is exactly what I want to take part in.” With that being said, I want to practice disability law. Specifically, I want to study health law and public policy law and see how I can advocate for disabilities through that.”
“I’ve always been fairly active, I think. When I was younger I was involved in an adaptive soccer league, and I did competitive dance for a long time as well, but that’s when I realized how weird society was when it came to integrating people with disabilities. My dance partner and I always won “high-gold” in our competitions, not because we deserved it, but because the judges thought I was brave for doing it. I’ve found even more opportunities to be involved in adaptive sports since moving to Arizona. I take part in an adaptive workout program through ASU, and I’ve played sled hockey with the Arizona Coyotes sled hockey team (which was the best day of my life, by the way. I’ve always wanted to play sled hockey.) I go on hikes frequently, I’ve gone rock climbing, and I’m a mentor for an adaptive youth soccer team, which I love.”
“I’m working on publishing a children’s book where the main character is in a wheelchair, and my goal is to write more books that feature different disabilities, because I believe that discrimination against the disabled community could be eradicated if we just started exposing kids to disabilities in a positive way at a young age.”
We are so grateful to have Carly as a part of our team. Visit our previous blog posts to read some of Carly’s work!