WHAT IS EDUCATION LAW?
Broadly speaking, the practice of education law touches upon numerous subspecialties, including but not limited to contracts, real estate, labor/employment, special education and discipline, nonprofit law, administrative law, disability law, constitutional law, and civil rights. While some practitioners develop an expertise in multiple areas, others focus their practice on a particular subspecialty.
Although many new law students assume that practicing in education law means representing students and parents, the reality is that the practice includes a variety of clients and a multitude of interests. Potential clients include universities, primary and secondary schools and school boards, state and local governments, teachers and administrators, unions, students and parents, among others.
Education law attracts litigators, regulatory attorneys, and transactional attorneys, depending on the specifics of a particular practice. On the litigation side, some practitioners focus on class action/impact litigation relating to school funding, racial equality, educational adequacy, special education, or First Amendment issues, for example. In addition to implicating an extensive knowledge of substantive civil rights law, these types of practices also call for well-honed skills in civil procedure and jurisdiction. Other litigators, in contrast, find that much of their time is devoted to client counseling, mediation, administrative proceedings, and other dispute resolution techniques, rather than courtroom advocacy. And yet other litigators' practices combine both types of practice.
On the regulatory side, those with an interest in legislation and administrative law can find numerous practice opportunities. Legislation and policy relating to school funding, special education, student achievement, school choice, civil rights, teacher performance, and other topics present varied opportunities for advocacy.
Transactional practice opportunities are also in abundance. Real estate contracts, employment and union negotiations, and other contractual relationships form a core component of any educational system.
IF YOU'RE CONSIDERING PURSUING A CAREER IN EDUCATION LAW...
1. Take education law courses and participate in Loyola's Education Law Practicum. A listing of Loyola’s education law courses is available here: http://luc.edu/law/academics/registrar/coursecatalog/coursesbytopic/educationlaw/.
2. Consider courses in areas such as real estate, labor/employment, administrative law, and constitutional law. See page 4-16 of the Education Law Career Guide below for a listing of courses related to education law.
3. Work as a law clerk at a firm that has an active education law practice or as a legal intern at a public interest organization or government agency that specializes in one or more facets of education law.
4. Stay up to date in the field of education law by regularly reading the education law blogs listed below.
5. Get to know Loyola professors specializing in education law - Dean Michael Kaufman, Hillary Weis Coustan and Miranda Johnson.
6. Join the Education Law & Policy Society.
7. Sign up for the CSO Child/Family/Education Law TWEN Group to receive periodic email announcements about upcoming events or job opportunities related to this practice area.
EDUCATION LAW RESOURCES
Education Law Career Guide (Prepared by Hillary Coustan, Maureen Kieffer, and Miranda Johnson)
Special Ed Connection (Loyola students, staff and faculty only)
Wrightslaw - Special Education Law Advocacy
LAF Chicago (school discipline and special education)
Education Law Blogs and E-Newsletters: