Opportunities for In House Counsel in School Districts

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Opportunities for In House Counsel in School Districts
Two Compatible Worlds

Maybe as a newbie law student you were conflicted in your love for the law - and your love for education. Like any other business or institution, school districts are in need of sharp minds. The opportunities open to freshly minted J.D.s range from corporate-like cowboys who'll head off trouble at the pass, to advocates for the needs of special education students. State law varies so widely, that an attorney is mandatory for most schools to avoid running afoul of the law - or of parents.

Many successful education lawyers began as teachers themselves. Seeing a need, they complete a law degree and are thus able to bring a dual point of view to their practice. Some education lawyers become inspired to enter the profession by the special needs of their own children. They have the opportunity to bring compassion to both sides - education and the law.

Un-Numbered Variety

Hundreds of attorney jobs in all fifty states vie for the attention of top law graduates. The more populous the state, the more openings there are, along with a collage of variety; criminal defense, arbitration, land acquisitions, court advocacy, liability, insurance, employee contracts, ADA issues, chartering special schools and advising school boards on the law. School governance can be an especially nuanced practice area.  The administration of tests, the application of statute mandates and remote learning policies can all have a gauntlet of opinion to assay before achieving implementation.  All school boards are well-intentioned, but the maintenance of democracy in diverse populations may drive a counselor into menageries of policy swamps.

All You Want To Be?

An education lawyer is in public service. Remember that the over-all goal is to create the best educational experience possible for the district's children. School district attorneys cannot expect to get rich exorcising star-chamber litigation. Relying on public funds, payment for special counsel services comes at a reduced level. Instead of whatever standard local rate exists for attorneys, the contracted or in-house champion may receive a rate of just $125 to $150 an hour. Discounts for school trade associations may reduce the rate even further.  Despite all that, lawyers for education may find other aspects especially rewarding. They are called to appear amicus curiae, as it were, before policy boards, courts and legislatures articulating both the district's point of view, and the impact on teaching and learning. Success is measured in peer accomplishment and student progress. The school children of the next generation may never know your name, but they will benefit from the fortress you build around their right to be well educated.

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