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New Jersey lawyer focusing on special education law and employment law

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Ten Tips for Special Education Clients

Attorneys who practice special education enjoy doing what they do. Special education attorneys care about parents and their special needs children; they want to see their clients’ children succeed not just in school, but in life after school as well.

Several months ago, Massachusetts attorney Robert Crabtree blogged about the mistakes that parents make in special education matters. Connecticut attorney Jennifer Laviano also has a great blog post about the 10 questions parents should ask themselves at the beginning of the new school year.

I’ll chime in on the top 10 things that parents should keep in mind when they retain a special education attorney:

Do not lie. This is a big no-no. Attorneys almost always find out when their clients lie. It is best to be truthful and straightforward. You will just make it more difficult if you lie to your attorney. It will cost you more money and aggravation. In rare cases, attorneys will cease representing you. Just don’t lie.

Try not to get frustrated answering questions. Attorneys ask a lot of questions. Clients sometimes get frustrated answering questions. It’s understandable. But remember, attorneys ask questions to get as much information as possible. We don’t mean to frustrate you. In any event, it’s good practice to hear these questions if you must file for a special education due process hearing.

Do not contact school personnel regarding issues of litigation. The reason you hired a special education attorney is so that your child can get the services he or she needs. Unless the attorney specifically instructs you to speak with school personnel regarding a particular issue that is being litigated, please direct all correspondences to your attorney. The main reason is simple: to avoid confusion and time-consuming mistakes. Therefore, if you have retained an attorney and have a question about something, ask your attorney.

Do not make any assumptions. Parents retain special education attorneys for their advice and expertise. If you’re not sure about something, ask. If you’re confused about something, ask. Don’t make assumptions. There’s no need to lose sleep over something. A good attorney wants you to understand what’s going on and what the next step will be.

Do not send originals, only copies. When an attorney asks you to send a copy of a document, do not give the original unless specifically requested. We mean that. Just make a copy and keep the original in your file.

Keep all papers. Don’t throw anything out. Every letter, every report, every correspondence, should be placed in a file. Every piece of paper is crucial evidence. In special education cases, nothing is immaterial: No matter how old a report might be, no matter how irrelevant a letter may appear, keep it in a place where you can find it and be sure to furnish a copy to your attorney.

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