Wednesday, December 2, 2009
The National School Board Association has an excellent web site, as well as a brochure, here,where they describe careers in school law. That web site is available here. The web site summarizes potential school law or what I prefer to call education law, careers as follows:
Most public school districts are multi-million dollar entities. The school attorney (whether in private practice or as an employee of the district) acts as corporate counsel, and advises the school board and the school administration on contract and general business affairs, human resource and collective bargaining issues, state and federal constitutional provisions, state and federal statutory issues, and case law that may impose liability on the school district. School attorneys represent kindergarten through 12th grade elementary, middle, or secondary level public schools, but some also advise community colleges and universities.
On any given day, the school attorney might find himself/herself advising a public school board client about separation of church and state issues such as the constitutionality of teaching “intelligent design” and/or evolution; investigating an allegation of sexual harassment of a student by a school staff member; meeting with a committee of school personnel and parents about the educational programming of a student with a disability; arguing a case about student dress codes in federal court; or researching and drafting a school board policy on state open meetings laws. School attorneys have the opportunity to be involved in some of the most significant legal issues of our time.
I would add that there is tremendous opportunity for students truly interested in education law because most law schools do not focus on it. Thus, it is often off the radar. However, both large and small law firms represent districts. There are opportunities to work in labor unions, advocacy organizations as well as the school district irtitself. The NYC Department of Education, for example, employs hundreds of attorneys. The Newark Board of Education employs large numbers of attorneys as well.
Mitchell H. Rubinstein