This office encourages the free flow of communication.  Often, the best way to work effectively with a school district or SELPA is to maintain a constant interaction.  As a client of the firm, you become part of that information flow.  We try to be available throughout the day either on the telephone, by email or by text message.  If no one is available when you call, we will return the call promptly when we are free. 

Email used extensively for communicating thoughts and ideas, as well as transmitting documents for your review or comment. You are encouraged to make extensive use of the medium to stay in touch, to ask question or to make suggestions.


Compensation to the firm in special education cases can be confusing because IDEA requires a school district to pay the attorney fees to parents if you prevail in a dispute.  However, until the hearing process begins, the school district has no obligation to pay attorneys fees, and then only if you "prevail".    If you prevail against the school district, only those attorney's fees you incur after the due process complaint has been filed are subject to reimbursement by the district.  Unfortunately, the Supreme Court has recently ruled that the district is not obligated to reimburse the cost of expert witnesses, although legislation has been proposed to reverse that ruling.  

initial telephone conference: We encourage you to call the office to discuss your child's special education needs.  There will be no charge for that initial call.  During the conversation, you will have an opportunity to explore with us the process by which we will, with your help, secure an appropriate education for your child.  We will discuss the possible outcomes and the fees for which you may become responsible.  If you decide to move ahead, we will send for your signature a Service Agreement required by the California State Bar which describes our attorney-client relationship.  We will also send an Authorization for Release of Information which allows the school district to share your child's records with our office.

case review & conference: The next step is to collect all the relevant assessments, IEPs, communications from your child's school, etc. for a case review.  Once we have received the documents, we will review them all and prepare a preliminary recommendation for your consideration.  A conference will be scheduled with you and, if appropriate, your child to discuss a strategy for achieving the most benefit we believe should be available to your child under the IDEA or Section 504.  This case review and conference will have a fixed fee of $500, payable from the deposit made with your fee agreement.

deposit:  We normally require a deposit against fees charged and costs advanced to be made when the fee agreement is signed. The deposit will be placed in your trust account less the case review fee, if not paid separately.  At the end of each month, we will send a statement to you which sets forth in some detail all time spent or costs advanced during the month.  We will draw the amount due on that statement from your trust account and expect that you will make a payment in the same amount to replenish the amount of the deposit.

regular charges: After the initial conference, lawyer and advocate charges are accrued based primarily on a fixed fee schedule, shown here.  The charges are based on events rather than an hourly rate.  In addition, an administrative fee will be charged during any month in which there is more than a minimum amount of activity. Fees may still be charged on an hourly basis for unusual events. 


Out of pocket expenses will be passed on after your approval for amounts in excess of $100.  Travel will be charged on a mileage basis at the rate approved by the Internal Revenue Service.  These charges have the advantage of making your financial commitment predictable and they represent a substantial discount from charges which would accrue on an hourly basis.  If you have questions, please ask for a clarification.

payment: The office accepts checks in payment for services.  Visa and MasterCard may be available to pay for services rendered and costs incurred.  Please check to see whether payment by credit card online has been made available.

adjustments: We are sensitive to our clients' budget constraints.  Please talk to us about any problem during the initial telephone conference so that we can make any necessary adjustment to the fee agreement.

other issues

obligations:  A successful relation turns on reciprocal obligations.  We will maintain a close communication with you by regular contact — telephone calls, copies of documents we receive from the district, even our monthly fee statements which list the activities of the past month in some detail.  You become part of the team and are consulted about every major decision, as well as a participant in IEP meetings, communications with the school district and due process hearings.

You, in turn, agree to be truthful with us, to cooperate with us, to sign documents when requested, to keep us informed of any development, to pay statements for fees and costs (if any) on time, to keep us informed of your address, telephone number and be reasonably available for meetings and conferences.

waiver of rights: Unless you are being charged for all fees incurred and your account is current, we reserve the right to require a settlement power of attorney from you.  Our fees may be dependent on your approval of a settlement and if you are unavailable or unwilling to sign an agreement, even though it is in your best interest, we would have the power to do it on your behalf.

post office box mm, newport beach, california   phone: 949-675-8736   fax: 949-675-0461   email: info@specedlawyer.com
© 2012 G. Edmund Siebel, Jr.  All rights reserved