I’m going to lie to you. About special education law.
So don’t read any further. You’ve been warned.
(If you continue reading, you’ll see why.)
I’m a special education lawyer who represents parents and children with special needs. (All you heard was “lawyer”, so you know I’m lying. So stop reading now.)
If you become my client, here is what I will tell you:
- The school district is always wrong.
- I guarantee you’ll win.
- Of course I’ll handle your case pro bono (for free).
- Your kid deserves a one-to-one aide (no matter what).
- No IEP? I’ll get your kid one immediately.
- This case will be over in a week.
- This school district and its attorneys always back down when they know I’m in the case.
- Don’t use an advocate. They’re all idiots.
- No one knows more about special ed law than me. Trust me.
Ever heard any of these?
OK, here is where I stop lying and start telling you some truths:
The school district is always wrong.No, they’re not and sometimes you or your lawyer needs to listen to find the best way to resolve the case. I guarantee you’ll win.No lawyer should ever say this, especially in sped law cases. Not only does the case depend on the facts, it depends on the Hearing Officer or Administrative Law Judge that hears the case. Of course I’ll handle your case pro bono (for free).Be very wary of an attorney who says this. It might be an attorney who has never handled a special ed case before. That spells Trouble with a capital T. Your kid deserves a one-to-one aide (no matter what).Although parents might like to hear this, it is seldom true. No IEP? I’ll get your kid one immediately.What if your child isn’t eligible for an IEP? And usually having a lawyer involved at eligibility stage is a bad thing (because the school district will get their lawyer involved and they’ll tell two friends and so on and so on . . . nothing will ever get accomplished.) This case will be over in a week.If a lawyer says this to you, RUN AWAY VERY FAST. No special ed case is over in a week. EVER. This school district and its attorneys always back down when they know I’m in the case.Oh really? Why is that Captain Ego? How many times have you actually interacted with this school district? Don’t use an advocate. They’re all idiots.Actually, most advocates are quite talented. They have their limits, but real special ed lawyers like trained advocates because they help the parents at a much reduced cost and know when to get the lawyer involved. No one knows more about special ed law than me. Trust me.Umm, no, don’t trust a lawyer who says this. It is a sales pitch, probably by someone who wants your child to be the guinea pig on the lawyer’s first special ed case.
So why did I write a post like this? and am I lying again?
Many parents of children with disabilities don’t even know that special education law exists, let alone what their rights are. Too many lawyers are trying to ‘cash in’ on this burgeoning area of the law. It is kind of like those digging for gold in the Wild Wild West, only there isn’t any gold.
I want you to be careful. From a selfish perspective, I’ve seen too many lawyers who don’t know what they’re doing in this area make bad law for the parents who fight these battles later. (One example is the Batchelor case out of the 3rd Circuit. An employment law attorney named Frank Schwartz made really bad law probably because he knew nothing about special ed law.)
Here is the point: a special education case involves the education of YOUR child. Do you really want to trust your child’s future to a lawyer who just wants to make some money? If you want the best possible result for your child, you need to invest time in researching your special ed lawyer as much as you do researching the therapies and physicians who help your child. If you don’t, you may end up spending a lot of money (paying YOUR lawyer) with very little results (or worse, negative results). Work closely with your lawyer (and/or advocate) to make sure you have a ‘team’ approach to the case. After all, it is about YOUR child. In the end, you will be much happier and won’t think all lawyers are jerks. And liars.
I wouldn’t lie about this. (Even though I’m a lawyer.)
Now, back to more lying:
I’m naturally thin and eat cheesecake for every meal. 😉