Ira A. Burnim is a magna cum laude graduate of Harvard Law School, who joined the Judge David L. Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law legal staff in 1988 and became legal director in 1989. Formerly, Burnim served as legal director of the Children's Defense Fund, senior attorney at the Southern Poverty Law Center, and law clerk to the Hon. Frank M. Johnson, Jr. Burnim is a member of the executive committee of the Disability Rights Bar Association.
He is recognized for his expertise in policy and legal issues related to the Americans with Disabilities Act, community mental health care, Medicaid, and children’s issues. He consults with federal agencies, state policy makers, and advocates. Working with Disability Rights International and the Mental Disability Advocacy Center, he has advised advocates and policy makers in Hungary, the Czech Republic, Albania, Romania, Ukraine, Russia, and Japan.