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Justice is Blind

Justice is Blind

The population of deaf Americans is vastly underrepresented in the legal profession: with about 10 million hard of hearing adults and another 1 million functionally deaf individuals, only about 200 deaf attorneys practice in the U.S. One of these is Jared Allebest, a Salt Lake City lawyer who has overcome odds and a disability to represent the deaf community in the courtroom.

The obstacles for a deaf attorney abound, and even legal terminology seems to poke fun at the deaf community – There are legal ‘hearings’ in courtrooms, juries ‘hear’ evidence, but they can’t accept ‘hearsay’ and a trial doesn’t even begin until the bailiff utters the cry: Hear ye, hear ye! Only recently was the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Bar Association created as a resource for lawyers, students and judges. Allebest, the deaf Salt Lake City lawyer, says that it hasn’t held him back. When he had difficulty finding employment, he realized that he had a specific skill and could fulfill a niche opportunity to represent other deaf individuals.

Oftentimes the deaf community is silenced—no pun intended—or made invisible by their disability. Unlike blindness or physical disfiguration, deaf people can, in many ways, operate in much of the way mainstream culture does. Allebest, for example, didn’t even learn sign language until high school instead preferring to speak and lip read. In the courtroom, too, he only uses sign language interpreters to hear testimony and speak his arguments to the court vocally.

But deaf Americans are disadvantaged, and this deaf Salt Lake City lawyer’s cases can quickly illustrate how. One deaf college student was charged with disorderly conduct, but when he requested a meeting with an administrator, he wasn’t provided an interpreter. His meeting devolved into frustration, and because deaf people rely on facial expressions and animation to help them communicate, the student was making loud noises, pounding his fist and yelling in an attempt to convey his message. The campus administrators saw it as an act of aggression and called the police.

As a deaf attorney, practicing law is challenging, but the gutsy and determined lawyer remains undaunted. Allebest has hard-won empathy and compassion for people with disabilities, due in part to his own experience with childhood peers teasing him and excluding him because of his lack of hearing. Now, as he looks back, he realizes that those behaviors stem from ignorance and a lack of experience with people who live with differences. And now, this Salt Lake City lawyer wants to serve people living with those differences and disabilities, all while utilizing his own. A teacher at Utah Valley University, Allebest provides pro bono counsel at a Taylorsville community deaf center and also works as an advocate for bringing public facilities into compliance with the American Disabilities Act. With an interest in acting, he’s been an extra in films and striving to land additional acting gigs.

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Michael R. Anderson, JD

Ascent Law LLC
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States

Telephone: (801) 676-5506

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About the Author

People who want a lot of Bull go to a Butcher. People who want results navigating a complex legal field go to a Lawyer that they can trust. That’s where I come in. I am Michael Anderson, an Attorney in the Salt Lake area focusing on the needs of the Average Joe wanting a better life for him and his family. I’m the Lawyer you can trust. I grew up in Utah and love it here. I am a Father to three, a Husband to one, and an Entrepreneur. I understand the feelings of joy each of those roles bring, and I understand the feeling of disappointment, fear, and regret when things go wrong. I attended the University of Utah where I received a B.A. degree in 2010 and a J.D. in 2014. I have focused my practice in Wills, Trusts, Real Estate, and Business Law. I love the thrill of helping clients secure their future, leaving a real legacy to their children. Unfortunately when problems arise with families. I also practice Family Law, with a focus on keeping relationships between the soon to be Ex’s civil for the benefit of their children and allowing both to walk away quickly with their heads held high. Before you worry too much about losing everything that you have worked for, before you permit yourself to be bullied by your soon to be ex, before you shed one more tear in silence, call me. I’m the Lawyer you can trust.