(1) I’m finishing my undergraduate degree in Special Education and want to work in Special Ed law. Do I need a doctorate and a law degree? I don’t care about the huge corporate jobs. I just want to make a difference.
(2) I am interested in Special Ed law. How does a lay person get involved at a higher level? Are there law schools that allow you to specialize in this field?
(3) I advocated for my two children for many years. I also attended IEP meetings with other parents to provide advocacy and support. Now, I’m interested in law school. What do you recommend?
So you want to go to law school? We are asked this question many times a week. Because there was so much interest, we created several pages of information for those who wanted to know more.
On these pages you can:
- Preview an oral argument. See a Law 363 student in oral argument in an LRE case.
- Take a test of your knowledge – try a final law exam.
- Find a law school or disability related program throughout the US.
- Read articles about a New Generation of Advocates.
- Link to other Wrightslaw tests or quizzes.
Special Education Law School and Advocacy Clinics
Most of you know that Pete and Pam are Adjunct Professors of Law at William and Mary Law School and advise PELE, the Special Education Advocacy Clinic. The Clinic assists children with special needs and their families with eligibility or Individualized Education Program meetings, discipline matters, mediation, and administrative hearings.
Because of the critical shortage of legal assistance for parents of children with disabilities, law schools around the country are developing children’s programs and advocacy clinics.
Student lawyers provide representation and advocacy to youth, families, and caregivers in special education and school discipline matters, community outreach and education, school reform litigation, policy research, and advocacy.
Students have the opportunity in a real-life context to hone their lawyering skills such as interviewing, negotiating, counseling, pre-trial litigation, and oral advocacy.
Get Lots of Trial Experience
Pete advises, “If you want to be an attorney who specializes in special ed litigation, focus on a law degree and get lots of trial experience. In the beginning years get experience litigating criminal defense, civil rights, divorce, and take lots of continuing legal ed course on cross-examination.
A special ed case is often a mixture of a medical malpractice wrongful death case that has merged with a very messy, emotional divorce, custody, and alimony case – a battle of expert witnesses arguing over shades of gray where each feels betrayed by the other.”