Susan Stefan is one ot the country's most highly regarded experts in mental disability law. She received her J.D. from Stanford Law School. From 1986 until 1990, she worked for the Mental Health Law Project, which is now the Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law. More recently, she was an attorney with the Center for Public Representation in Massachusetts. Her new book, Rational Suicide, Irrational Laws: Examining Current Approaches to Suicide in Policy and Law, published by Oxford University Press (Feb. 2016), argues strongly against involuntary commitment of people simply for talking about suicide and wanting to die. The book makes the argument that this kind of involuntary commitment is unconstitutional, and further argues that most hospitalization for suicidality, even voluntary hospitalization, is counterproductive.
Susan taught Disability Law and Mental Health Law at the University of Miami School of Law from 1990 until 2001. During that time she wrote two books, Unequal Rights: Discrimination Against People With Mental Disabilities and the Americans With Disabilities Act, and Hollow Promises: Employment Discrimination Against People With Mental Disabilities, as well as numerous articles and chapters on mental health law and disability law. A third book, Emergency Department Treatment of the Psychiatric Patient: Policy Issues and Legal Requirements (Oxford University Press, 2006), examines problems in the emergency care of patients diagnosed with psychiatric disorders, and is based on research, surveys, legal materials, and personal interviews. She has contributed chapters to many other books and published numerous law review articles. Susan has litigated numerous ADA cases, including Ellen S. v. Florida Board of Bar Examiners, 859 F. Supp. 1489 (S.D. Fla. 1994) and Doe v. Stincer, 990 F. Supp, 1427 (S.D. Fla. 1997), vacated by Doe v. Stincer, 175 F. F.3d 879 (11th Cir. 1999), and has submitted several amici briefs to the United States Supreme Court and other lower courts. She directs the National Emergency Department Project at the Center for Public Representation.
Susan is a recipient of many awards for her advocacy and litigation on behalf of people with psychiatric disabilities. A long-time NARPA member and supporter, Susan is a past President of NARPA\'s board. She lives with her husband in Rutland, Massachusetts.