Tips for Hiring a Special Education Attorney
If you are looking for a special education attorney, you are probably experiencing a serious problem related to the services your child with special needs is receiving. It’s important to find an attorney who fully understands the legal and practical implications of federal legislation, including the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).
You will want to choose an attorney who has a thorough understanding of how schools work and knows how to communicate with teachers, administrators, and school superintendents. The best way to find out if a special education attorney is right for you is by meeting them in person and giving them an opportunity to address your concerns during a FREE consultation.
Does the Attorney Have the Right Knowledge?
Nothing is more important than your child’s well-being. That’s why you should find an attorney who’s sensitive to the needs of your child with special needs. The best special education lawyers have compassion for children with special needs and a deep commitment to helping parents and students cope with the unique challenges they are facing.
It’s helpful to write down a list of the questions you wish to ask. A qualified special education lawyer should be able to demonstrate a clear understanding of how the law relates to the following topics:
- 504 Plans
- Filing for due process
- Assistive technology
- Private school placement
- Adult programs and transition
- Least Restrictive Environment (LRE)
How Has the Attorney Handled Similar Cases in the Past?
Whatever type of legal assistance you are seeking, you will want to make sure that your special education attorney has successfully resolved similar issues in the past. Important information to know is how the attorney handles disputes and the outcomes they have been able to achieve for their clients.
For example, let’s say you are dealing with a placement issue. You might feel that your child with special needs could benefit from occupational therapy because they have difficulty with writing, cutting, drawing, and other fine motor skills. Perhaps the other members of the IEP team rejected the idea, insisting that your child is getting the services he requires through classroom activities and adaptive PE (APE).
After explaining the issue to the attorney, they should be able to provide you with examples of how they have addressed similar issues for clients in the past. An experienced special education lawyer will be able to tell you about times they resolved issues by making a phone call, writing a letter, through medication, or filing a formal complaint.
Is the Attorney a Good Fit for You?
Your special education lawyer will be spending a lot of time with you and your child with special needs. You will definitely want to find someone who shares your values. It’s also important to select an attorney who knows how to listen. It’s clearly a red flag when an attorney starts telling you all the things they’re going to do before you have fully explained your situation.
Another thing you will want to ask the attorney is how you can reach them and how quickly they respond to client calls. If anything about the attorney makes you feel uncomfortable, it’s a good idea to go with your instincts and choose someone else.
Large law firms that handle various types of cases may have one or two attorneys who have worked on related cases in the past, but it’s unlikely that they will have anyone who only works with special education clients. That’s why you’ll want to personally meet the attorney who will be handling your case. It’s crucial to ask potential attorneys about how much experience they have in the field of special education law.
Many clients prefer to select a law firm that deals exclusively with special education law. These firms are usually small enough to provide personalized service. Attorneys at special education law firms are more likely to understand the issues you are dealing with, and they offer invaluable first-hand experience that you won’t get from an attorney who practices various types of law.
The final thing you will want to clear up before hiring an attorney is the billing process. It’s crucial to find an attorney who will go over their billing process with you and provide a written copy of their fee structure in advance.
Is Your Child with Disabilities Getting the Services They Deserve?
Parents of children with disabilities have the right to request a written plan that spells out how the school will provide services to ensure equal access to education. If your child isn’t receiving the support they require, you are within your rights to seek the legal counsel and guidance of an experienced special needs lawyer.
At Woodsmall Law Group, we serve children with special needs and their parents in Southern California, focusing on the San Gabriel Valley. Our attorneys have been helping families make the most of their educational opportunities for over 18 years.
If you have any questions or concerns about your child’s placement or the services they are receiving, please call (626) 440-0028 to schedule a FREE initial consultation. We speak English, Mandarin, Cantonese, Polish, and Spanish.