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UPL Opinion 56

On September 30, 2020, New Jersey’s Supreme Court Committee on the Unauthorized Practice of Law issued Opinion 56 on “Non-Lawyer Special Education Consultants and the Unauthorized Practice of Law.” Of note, the Committee restricted the participation of non-attorney advocates at IEP meetings and mediation conferences, saying those advocates may not “represent” parents or “speak on their behalf.”

In response to written objections by ELC, the Committee issued a Notice dated October 14, 2020 that suspended Opinion 56 and asked for public comment on the issues raised by Opinion 56, setting a deadline of November 16, 2020.

By report, hundreds of comments were submitted to the Committee by advocacy organizations, parents, non-attorney advocates, and lawyers in opposition to the restrictions imposed by Opinion 56. Among the organizational comments were those submitted by: Education Law Center; the Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates; Court-Appointed Special Advocates of New Jersey; Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund; Disability Rights New Jersey; National Association of the Deaf; National Disability Rights Network; New Jersey Education Association; Professors of Legal Ethics, Poverty Law & Disability; SPAN Parent Advocacy Network; The Arc; and Volunteer Lawyers for Justice.

The Committee has noted that it will issue a superseding opinion, but there is no time limit within which the Committee is required to act. ELC will post the Committee’s superseding opinion once it is received.