Working with Your Attorney
In an ideal world, parents, educators, and other professionals would always be able to work cooperatively with each other to ensure that the child’s best interests are being served. And indeed, this often occurs. But sometimes an attorney can be helpful if you get stuck in the Individualized Education Program (IEP) process, if there is a dispute, or if you need to file for due process. An attorney can also help you review the IEP document and other forms. After you have found an attorney, ask for a case evaluation.
You can request a case evaluation before you hire the attorney. Always ask if there is a fee for the evaluation. During a case evaluation, the attorney will review all of the documents related to the dispute or other issue. He will also likely question you about the matter. After analyzing the case, the attorney should inform you of the legal process and whether you have a strong case. A special education lawyer might also be able to discuss his experience in dealing with your school district. He should provide an estimate of how long the issue might take and about how much you can expect to spend in legal fees.
After you hire an attorney, it might be tempting to sit back, catch your breath, and wait for him to handle the heavy lifting. After all, that’s what you’re paying him for. However, it is critical to remain informed throughout the entire process. Tell your attorney that you expect to be provided with regular updates and that you must be contacted for every decision. Your attorney should also return your phone calls promptly, provide clear, easy-to-follow answers for all of your questions, and provide you with an itemized list of services.
You have hired an attorney to resolve a dispute or otherwise settle an issue, but occasionally, disputes with your attorney may arise. Address any problems promptly. Typically, this will mean having a discussion with your attorney about the problem and what you expect to be done about it. If the matter cannot be resolved, consider finding a different attorney. Fire the first attorney, in writing, prior to hiring another one so that he cannot continue to bill you. You might also consider contacting the local bar association if the attorney breached ethics or violated his billing practices. If the attorney made a major mistake that could compromise your case, you might also consider filing a malpractice lawsuit.