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Attorney Or Advocate: Which Do I Choose?

As you get more involved in the process of navigating the education system for your special needs child, you will be faced with several decisions. One of the most important choices you will make is whether you want to have an attorney or an advocate to accompany you to the meetings that will help decide your child’s educational future.

Comparing Attorneys And Advocates

You are not obligated to choose a lawyer to defend your child’s education rights. Some people prefer having a friend or family member help them. However, there are differences between attorneys and advocates that may inform your decision. These include:

  • Legal training: Attorneys have law degrees, have passed the bar exam and are regulated by each state where they practice. Lawyers perform legal services and offer legal advice. Advocates, on the other hand, are not required to have special training or education. Advocates cannot offer legal advice or services, and they are not licensed or regulated.
  • Representation under New York and Connecticut law: An advocate may represent parents and students at individual education plan (IEP) meetings, but not at due process hearings, state court or federal court. Attorneys may represent their clients in all phases of the process.
  • Representation under federal laws: Attorneys may represent their clients throughout the process, but advocates may not represent anyone in a federal court proceeding.

I Am Ready To Help You

If you are interested in speaking to an attorney about your child’s special education needs, get in touch with me for a free one-hour initial consultation. Contact The Law Offices Of Gerry McMahon, LLC, today for a consultation. You can reach me by email or call me at 203-942-2430.