Founders and Directors

Disability Law Colorado was established in 1976 as The Legal Center for People with Disabilities and Older People by attorneys Steve Zimmerman and Joe Epstein.

In 1977 Bruce Bernstein became Executive Director, and our former Director of Legal Services, Randy Chapman, joined the organization.  Following Randy's retirement, Alison L. Butler, Esq. became our Director of Legal Services on October 1, 2015.  Mary Anne Harvey has been the Executive Director since 1980. 

Protection & Advocacy System

In June 1977, Governor Lamm designated Disability Law Colorado as Colorado’s Protection and Advocacy (P&A) System following a public hearing process and pressure from the disability community. Disability Law Colorado had already established a track record as an effective advocacy organization and was well-known to those working in the state services system for people with developmental disabilities.

Since its designation as Colorado’s P&A System, Disability Law Colorado has represented more than 25,000 people with disabilities.

We have provided information and technical assistance to more than 130,000 people and reached more than 100,000 Coloradans through education programs and publications.

Public Education for Children with Severe Disabilities

Early in our history, we represented parents of school-age children at Wheat Ridge State Home and Training School and were successful in requiring school districts to pay for the education of children who were institutionalized. Association of Retarded Citizens in Colorado v. Frazier is the lawsuit that resulted in children with severe disabilitiesattending public schools in the Denver area for the first time, and subsequently throughout Colorado.


In 1988, we added two programs to support older adults: The Colorado Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program and the Legal Assistance Developer Program.

Human Rights, Employment and Long-Term Care

Other groundbreaking legal work prevented sterilization of people with developmental disabilities and protected people with disabilities from employment discrimination. As a result of our investigation into the deaths of two individuals at a nursing home in Loveland, the state closed the facility. Disability Law Colorado was also one of the first organizations in the country to provide legal assistance to people with HIV/AIDS.

New Name: Disability Law Colorado

In February of 2015, The Legal Center for People with Disabilities and Older People officially became Disability Law Colorado.