Advocates & Attorneys 

The page focuses on resources that that can assist in locating an advocate or special education attorney. We've included these together only because some of the of organizations here cover both, but its important to understand that advocates and attorneys play different roles in the special education process. Advocates can be folded into the special education process at just about any point and are often welcomed by the school (for more information see our page What are Advocates).

Rightly or wrongly, attorneys tend be viewed as more adversarial by schools and typically, though not always, enter the process later after unsuccessful attempts to resolve a dispute. While there are certainly times when the best course of action might require an attorney, studies suggest that collaboration between parents, caregivers and the school often lead to best outcomes for children so careful consideration should be given. 

We recommend you first consult Foundations for Effective Collaboration and Understanding the Dispute Process and also consider contacting the Information Center for the Federation for Parents with Special Needs, who can provide guidance specific to your circumstances including when you should consider contacting an attorney.  

Federation for Parents with Special Needs - FCSN is our parent organization and states their mission  is to "Provide information, support, and assistance to parents of children with disabilities, their professional partners, and their communities. We are committed to listening to and learning from families, and encouraging full participation in community life by all people, especially those with disabilities."  

FCSN provides a wealth of resources, but we're including them here primarily for their information center, which should be among the first you call if you need guidance on the particulars of your circumstance. They offer advice on when you should consider involving an advocate or attorney and can also provide referrals in many cases.   

Information Center - General information center that can answer questions but also provide referrals to advocates and attorneys

Massachusetts Advocates for Children: A non-profit organization who states their mission is "to remove barriers to educational and life opportunities for children and youth. We do so by advocating for and partnering with students and families; transforming school cultures to be inclusive, safe and supportive; and creating systemic change so all children and youth can learn, reach their potential, and thrive. We focus our advocacy on children and youth who face significant barriers, inequities, and/or discrimination because of their economic status, disability, race, ethnicity/culture, immigration status, English Learner status, and/or traumatic life experiences." They provide a general advocacy helpline and will offer suggestions, referrals and in certain circumstances provide advocates or legal resources at no cost. 

Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates - COPAA’s states their mission  is "to protect and enforce the legal and civil rights of students with disabilities and their families.  Our primary goal is to secure high quality educational services and to promote excellence in advocacy."  COPAA provides both guidance and search tools to help locate an advocate or attorney. 

Find an Attorney/Advocate/Professional - Directory search for special education advocates, attorneys and similar Guidelines for Choosing an Advocate - Suggested guidelines to consider when selecting an advocate

Guidelines for Choosing an Attorney - Suggested guidelines to consider when selecting an attorney

Family TIES of Massachusetts -  Is a program under the The Division for Children & Youth with Special Health Needs. They "provide information and training for families of children with special health needs or disability and their professional partners. " We're including them here primarily for their Directory of Resources which provides a directory of service providers including advocates.

Directory of Resources - Directory of various sevice providers including advocates

Special Needs Advocacy Network - The Boston based Special Needs Advocacy Network states their mission is "to provide advocacy, education, and other actions that empower all families, professionals including advocates, and others with an interest, to enable students with disabilities to reach their full potential." They have search tools to help locate an advocate or attorney as well as other resources 

Wrightslaw - Pam and Peter Wright initially created this web sight to accompany the publication of their book and it contains a variety of articles, frequently asked questions etc. largely focused on special education law and advocacy. Per the site, "parents, advocates, teachers, and attorneys come to Wrightslaw for reliable, up-to-date information about special education law and advocacy for children with disabilities."  We're including them here primarily for their "Yellow Pages for Kids" which provides a directory of service providers including advocates.

Yellow Pages for Kids - List of various service providers including advocates

The Disability Law Center is a private, non-profit organization who states their mission is "to provide legal advocacy on disability issues that promote the fundamental rights of all people with disabilities to participate fully and equally in the social and economic life of Massachusetts." They provide information, referral, technical assistance and representation regarding legal rights and services for people with disabilities, including but not exclusive to educational services. 

The Children's Law Center of Massachusetts states that their mission is is to promote and secure equal justice and to maximize opportunity for low-income children and youth by providing quality, culturally sensitive advocacy and legal services." Separately they note they provide "comprehensive services to students with disabilities in restraint and seclusion, school discipline (suspension/expulsion), special education and related matters." They offer legal services primarily focused on economic disadvantaged children with special needs. 

Mental Health Legal Advisors Committee "provides legal and policy advocacy for people with mental health challenges throughout the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. A State agency, its central priority is to address those concerns that are most closely related to clients’ ability to live full and independent lives". They focus exclusively on mental health issues as opposed to general disabilities.

Specific Advocates 

In addition to the resources above, we often get asked to recommend specific advocates for parents. Unfortunately, providing a comprehensive list of advocates is well outside the scope of our expertise. We do include several advocates on our service providers page which you can find here

This page also contains links to neighboring SEPACs, who maintain their own lists of providers as well as links to some of the directories listed above. Please note that we at Reading SEPAC do not endorse any service providers.

Please note that we at Reading SEPAC cannot guarantee the accuracy or completeness of any information presented on any third-party website listed on this site, nor do we endorse any informational content appearing on third-party websites of any of the providers listed. We endeavor only to provide a listing of potentially helpful organizations available. Its up to you, as a consumer, to do your own diligence and research.