William and Mary Law School

Special Education Law Career Guide

by Paul Hellyer
Updated August 2014

Children Boarding School BusARTICLES

Stacey Altherr and Eden Laikin, Their Firm Grip: Lawyers of L.I. Schools, Newsday, Feb. 24, 2008.
Describes the work that several law firms are doing for public schools on Long Island and explains why special education law has become an area of specialization for lawyers.

Jennifer M. Lukach Bradley, Staying in the Mainstream, Pennsylvania Lawyer, July/August 2009, at 39.
An attorney specializing in special education law explains how the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is applied.

Denise Buffa, Battling for Needy Students: Lawyers Work to Ensure Children Get an Education, Hartford Courant, Jan. 14, 2013, at A1.
Discusses the work of lawyers who volunteer to represent special needs students.

Cases With Special Needs: Public Education for Disabled Children Has Become the Province of Lawyers, Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly, Nov. 23, 2009.
Focusing on a drawn-out legal dispute in Massachusetts, this article illustrates how special education litigation has become more common.

Catherine L. Lyons, Emerging Trends in Special Education Law and Litigation, Aspatore, Oct. 2013.
A special education lawyer discusses the relevant law and offers advice to other practitioners.

Thomas Ott, Doctors, Lawyers Team Up to Aid Students, Cleveland Plain Dealer, April 28, 2009.
Explains how legal aid lawyers in Cleveland teamed up with local physicians to identify children with learning disabilities and secure special education services for them.

Olga Pribyl, Leveling the Playing Field: Helping Children with Special Education Needs, Chicago Bar Association Record, Oct. 2009, at 42.
Describes pro bono opportunities for lawyers in this field.

Mary Ellen Sowyrda, Practicing Special Education Law: The Perpsective of One Public School Attorney, Aspatore, Oct. 2013.
A special education lawyer describes her career and gives an overview of the legal issues.

Special Education Decision Making: Role of the Child's Attorney, Child Law Practice Newsletter, Nov. 2008, at 138.
Provides an overview of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and offers practice tips for attorneys who represent students with special needs.

Jim Walsh, An Education in School Law: What Lawyers Need to Know About Special Education Law, 74 Texas Bar Journal 830 (Oct. 2011).
An attorney representing public schools in Texas explains the complex legal issues that lawyers face in this field.

ORGANIZATIONS & WEBSITES

American Bar Association, Commission on Disability Rights
740 15th Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20005
tel: 202-662-1570
fax: 202-442-3439
email: cdr@americanbar.org 
website: http://www.abanet.org/disability
The ABA's Commission on Disability Rights represents the interests of disabled attorneys and law students, as well as attorneys working in the field of disability law, including special education. Their website includes access to the Commission's newsletter and a law students resources page.

Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates
P. O. Box 6767
Towson, Maryland 21285
website: http://www.copaa.net
"COPAA’s mission is to be a national voice for special education rights and to promote excellence in advocacy. Our primary goal is to secure high quality educational services for children with disabilities." --From the website.

National Disability Rights Network
900 Second Street, NE, Suite 211
Washington, DC 20002
tel: 202-408-9514
fax: 202-408-9520
website: http://www.ndrn.org
"NDRN is the nonprofit membership organization for the federally mandated Protection and Advocacy (P&A) Systems and Client Assistance Programs (CAP). Collectively, the P&A/CAP network is the largest provider of legally based advocacy services to people with disabilities in the United States." --From the website.

Special Education Advocacy Law Clinic
William & Mary School of Law
P.O. Box 8795
Williamsburg, Virginia 23187-8795
tel: 757-221-5735
website: http://law.wm.edu/academics/programs/jd/electives/clinics/specialed/index.php 
William & Mary Law School's Special Education Advocacy Law Clinic offers students the opportunity to gain experience representing special-needs children and their families.


Photo:  Associated Press