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Friday, February 8, 2013

10 Things to Look for in a Special Education Attorney

From The Friendship Circle Blog

A Guest Post
February 4, 2012

Making sure your child with special needs gets the best possible education can sometimes seem more difficult than rocket science. If you feel your child is not getting the services he or she deserves, you may need to hire an attorney and consider legal action.

That brings up the issue of finding the right attorney who can represent your child’s best interests.

So that you don’t pull out your hair, here are some important guidelines you can use to find the right attorney.

Find a Special Education Attorney who:

1. Has Experience.
  • Look for an attorney who has vast knowledge of special education law and your child’s particular disability. An attorney who writes, lectures, and is known in the area of special education law is a good place to start.

2. Is Well Connected.
  • Find an attorney who is connected to the special education and disability community in your area. An attorney who understands your school district and the individuals in charge will be better able to devise a strategy when advocating for your child.

3. Looks For Peaceful Solutions.
  • An attorney who looks to resolve your issues with your school district amicably before heading to ligitigation is ideal. This will save you and the school district much heart-ache and additional fees.

4. Understands Your Child.
  • Look for an attorney who will take the time to learn about your child and family. Each child is different, there are no cookie-cutter solutions. The more your attorney learns about your child the better the chance he or she will come up with an agreement that is favorable to you.

5. Comes Highly Recommended.
  • Find an attorney who comes recommended by someone you respect in the special education or disability field. An attorney who has the respect and admiration of someone you trust will give you the confidence you need to go through with hiring an attorney to advocate for your child.

6. Is Upfront About Fees.
  • Get an attorney that does not necessarily have the lowest fees, but explains their fees so there are no surprises. Many times you have one shot at fighting your school district. We should not be looking for bargains here, but rather the best attorney to help our children get what they need!

7. Focuses On Special Education.
  • Make sure you hire an attorney that has special education law as one of their primary areas of practice. Special Education Law is so specialized that it is not appropriate to use an attorney that has a general practice for special education matters.

8. Has A Special Education Advocate On Staff.
  • Having a special education advocate (supervised by an special education attorney) work on your case, allows for a more cost effective and collaborative way of dealing with your school district at the committee level.

9. Explains The Strength Of Your Case.
  • Your attorney should be able to tell you in an initial consultation the strength of your case before you go forward with retaining them.

10. You Will Feel Comfortable With!
  • You will need to work together with your attorney. just like any partnership you need to cooperate closely and have a good relationship.

About The Author

Sheryl Frishman is of Counsel to the law firm of Littman Krooks LLP. Prior to joining Littman Krooks, Sheryl was a partner in the law offices of Frishman & Faber, P.C., a practice devoted entirely to the advocacy and life planning needs of children and adults with disabilities and their families.

She is also a co-host of the Family Network TV show “It’s a Matter of Law”, a show that covers all legal aspects of having a child with special needs.

Frishman received her B.S. from Union College, and her J.D. from Cardozo Law School of Yeshiva University. Sheryl is the mother of three children, one of whom has Autism.

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