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.

Our focus at The Law Offices of Gerry McMahon, LLC, is on helping parents and children with disabilities make sure they are provided with the special education services they need and that the law provides for them. We serve both New York and Connecticut clients out of our Scarsdale and Danbury offices, respectively.

Comparing Attorneys And Advocates

You are not obligated to choose a lawyer instead of an advocate when it comes to fighting for your child's education rights. Some people, in fact, may prefer to have a friend or family member rather than an attorney to assist them. However, there are some key differences that you need to be aware of that may inform your decision:

Legal Training: Attorneys have law degrees, have passed the bar and are regulated by each state where they practice. They perform legal services and offer legal advice; clients can report grievances to regulatory bodies. Advocates, on the other hand, are not required to have any special training or degrees. They 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: Again, attorneys may represent their clients throughout the process, but advocates may not represent parents or students, or anyone for that matter, in any federal court proceeding.

We can help you decide how to best address your needs. Contact us today for a consultation. You may email us your information or call us toll free at 866-535-4604.