Legal Representation or Alternate Dispute Resolution
Content Provided by: Helen Rader and Jenifer Simpson
When you’ve made phone calls until you’re hoarse and your hands hurt from writing letters you might find you need to increase the pressure in order to effect the changes that need to be made. It’s time to hire an attorney or utilize a formal Alternate Dispute Resolution process if there is one available or offered. Your state has a Protection & Advocacy agency and your county has a legal services office that can help you out.
With proper documentation and knowledge of the facts you will save time, attorney’s fees, and personal aggravation. So make sure that you have your records organized. This preparation will also help you figure out if the mediator or lawyer is competent and knowledgeable about disability issues. You cannot assume that the domestic relations lawyer, that you used for your divorce, for instance, also understands how special education law works or that an appointed mediator, for instance, knows what a Personal Assistance Services caregiver is.
Like all professionals you will be involved with, they are paid for their expertise and services and it is you who hires or consults them. Always get several referrals first and then “interview” the professional if possible. Trust your intuition and observations. You can say, “I’m shopping for an attorney who understands disability.” If at the end of the interview you’re unsure of how to proceed feel free to tell them “I’ll get back to you when I decide what to do.”
Have questions about advocacy and how to get started?
Visit the My Child Without Limits support community and talk to fellow parents and caregivers about their experiences.
Use these resources to learn more about advocacy in your area.