Ethical Issues in Education Law

(354 Ratings)

Produced on: August 17, 2017

Course Format On Demand Audio

Taught by


Course Description

Time 93 minutes
Difficulty Intermediate

Education Law is much more expansive than many people know, and education lawyers may handle a wide variety of types of work, each raising different ethical concerns. For example, representing schools and school districts is similar to representing a corporation, but with taxpayers instead of shareholders—and children, parents, and communities are added into the mix. Given these complications, the ethical considerations facing school or school board practitioners are significant, as are those faced by attorneys representing collective bargaining associations. With an institutional client, questions may arise about who the precise client actually is. For attorneys representing students and parents, the issue is even more complex.

When representing a student in a matter against a school or school district, whether special education, bullying, or discipline, the question of who the client is may arise. Is it the student, most frequently a minor and potentially of diminished capacity, or is it the parent, who has retained the attorney and is paying the bill?

This program will discuss common conflicts of interests, including “who is the client, and who was the client,” handling current conflicts with the attorney and school or school district, conflicts due to prior representation, or conflicts with another practitioner in the firm. While waivers of conflicts are available in some states, some prohibit waivers when a public entity is involved, so this distinction is crucial for education attorneys to know.

The program, taught by Joanne L. Butler, a Partner at Schenk, Price, Smith & King LLP, will also cover communications and the requirement of candor in a digital age where communications are not limited to the school day and instant messaging allows emotions to run high. This kind of messaging also implicates the importance of client confidentiality, which can be difficult to ensure in a digital medium. 

Learning Objectives: 

  1. Identify the types of conflicts of interests that may arise in different areas of education law
  2. Assess who your client is, and how this may affect their representation
  3. Understand how digital media affects the requirements of candor and confidentiality


Joanne L. Butler

Schenck, Price, Smith & King LLP

Joanne L. Butler represents numerous boards of education as general or special counsel. In addition to providing daily counsel to her school district clients, Ms. Butler conducts in-service training at all levels and represents her clients in investigations and litigation before the Department of Education, the Office of Administrative Law, the Public Employment Relations Commission, the Division on Civil Rights, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and various state and federal courts. A co-chair of the Labor & Employment Practice Group, Ms. Butler also offers employment counseling to private employers.

Ms. Butler frequently shares her knowledge and experience in the areas of school law and labor and employment law through lectures and in-service training on various education and employment issues. Topics have included harassment/intimidation/bullying; student discipline; expulsion and alternative education; residency issues; student records; student surveys; Individualized Education Program (IEP) preparation; special education; avoiding/surviving due process; Section 504; New Jersey Family Leave and Federal Family and Medical Leave; sexual harassment; search and seizure; technology on and off school grounds; and school safety concerns.

Prior to joining Schenck, Price, Smith & King, LLP in 1996, Ms. Butler was a partner with the West Orange firm of Young, Dimiero & Sayovitz. Early in her law career, she served her judicial clerkship with the Honorable Clarkson S. Fisher, former Chief Judge of the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey.


Siobhan C.

Good tips for the unique relationships in the school law world. The 1.5 hours goes by pretty fast.

Matt D.

Good information, speaker seemed very knowledgeable.

Amy C.

I really appreciated the hypotheticals!

MaryAnne C.


Julia R.

The most engaging portion was when the presenter discussed the hypotheticals.

Van J.

Excellent presentation.

James r.

Very good presentation of important and challenge area

Raymond K.

Variety of difficult and sometimes perplexing problems were handled well by the speaker.

Venola R.

Loved the hypotheticals.

Matthew W.

Great speaker!

Allen B.

Useful as a ground-level account of living and litigating in the area fought over by schools, teachers' unions, teachers, administrators, parents, and students (who may or may not be minors).

Lisa O.

Good hypotheticals

William D.

I will add the hypotheticals to my conflicts compliance checklist

Joy A.

Great content. Great presentation.

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$ 89 Ethics, Education Law, and Public Interest Law In Stock


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