One of the questions we get most frequently is why should a parent/caregiver chose a lawyer, and not an advocate, for their child’s special education case? The simplest answer is that a lawyer can help level the playing field. The School District, and their employees, have access to lawyers. Certainly, in Due Process case, the School District will be represented by an attorney at settlement conferences, depositions and hearings. By hiring an attorney for your special education case, you will have someone trained in the nuances of litigation and evidence, familiar with the relevant case law, and able to put forth the best legal argument on your behalf. Advocates, while they may be familiar with education law, simply do not have the legal training that an attorney can bring to the table.
But what if your case is not necessarily heading towards due process? Perhaps you want to try to obtain services, evaluations or accommodations through negotiations. Here again, it is important to have the right person helping you through this process. Hiring an attorney signals to the School District that you are serious about your requests. The right attorney can interface with the School District so that the important decision-makers are brought to the IEP table. Attorneys are trained in negotiations and mediations, and can help guide you towards an amicable resolution.
The most important question, though, is not whether to hire an attorney or an advocate, but rather is the person you chose to be your voice the right fit for your family. At our firm, we believe it is important to strike a balance between zealous advocacy on behalf of the child’s needs and preserving the relationships with school personnel that you and your child need to work with on a daily basis. We understand how difficult and personal this process can be, and so we aim to preserve relationships and strengthen communication between the parties whenever possible. If you are experiencing difficulty obtaining the resources your child needs, then call us to help you determine the right path towards helping your child succeed.