A person who guides you through the special education process.
|A legal professional who represents you in a dispute with a school.|
|Professional qualifications||Anyone can say they are an advocate. There is no license or certification.|
An attorney must have a license to practice law in your state.
|Can practice law|
But in some states, an advocate can represent you in a due process or impartial hearing.
Yes. Attorneys can:
- Give you legal advice
- Prepare legal complaints and papers
- Represent you in a due process or impartial hearing
- Represent you in a lawsuit in state or federal court
Some advocates are former teachers or education specialists. Depending on their background, they may be able to:
- Give advice on education services
- Suggest teaching methods or behavior strategies
- Consult with you on assistive technology
- Share information on the ins and outs of your local school system
An attorney’s main skill is legal.However, like advocates, some attorneys have special background skills.
|How schools react|
Some schools are open to working with advocates. They may allow them to facilitate meetings, or even to mediate between you and the school.
Other schools aren’t as open. If you bring an advocate to a meeting, the school may bring its lawyer.
Most schools are wary of attorneys. If you bring an attorney to a meeting, the school will bring its attorney.
At the same time, having a lawyer shows that you’re serious. Schools often respond quickly when they see you have an attorney.
|How much they cost|
Advocates charge fees, but usually less than what attorneys charge.
|Attorneys can be expensive. Many charge $100 or more per hour.|