Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Special Education Legal Representation: Is it a "Good Ole Boys" Club?


How can I be sure my attorney is on my side? He jokes with the school’s attorneys during meeting breaks. They seem to be very chummy. Is this just another “good ole boys’ club”?


This question comes up all the time, not just in special education cases. I often hear people say that the legal system is unfair. They watch the attorneys battle in the courtroom, then walk outside, laugh, and make plans to play golf. People assume it is a “good old boys” club and it is impossible for parents to get a fair hearing. They believe that all the attorneys are friends and that somehow makes it a conspiracy.

An attorney friend once explained it this way to me. He said that attorneys must separate what goes on in the courtroom from their personal life. They cannot let their courtroom opponents become hated enemies. Eventually, each attorney will face many, if not all, of the attorneys in their area as an opponent in court. If they begin to hate the opponents they face, it will not be long until they have to hate ALL of the attorneys because at some time or another, they will face them in court at some time or another.

Attorneys have an ethical obligation to vigorously defend their clients. The legal system is adversarial, by design. That does not mean that all adversaries are enemies.

Many attorneys are frustrated actors/actresses. That is part of what makes them good at what they do. Think about it. To be a good advocate, your attorney must maintain his/her emotions. If she becomes out-of-control, the school’s attorney is in control.
Yet, your attorney must be indignant and outraged at the way the school is treating you and your child. This takes a special skill and calling.
Do not assume that because those in the legal profession are civil – or even friendly – to each other that there is a conspiracy. Your attorney is on your side, or he would not have taken your case.