WASHINGTON, D.C. (April 3, 2006) — McDermott Will & Emery is pleased to announce that the Council of Parent Attorneys & Advocates (COPAA), a national organization devoted to promoting excellence in special education advocacy, presented Washington, D.C. health partner Ankur Goel with its Distinguished Service Award for "extraordinary pro bono advocacy for the educational rights of children with disabilities."
The award was presented on April 1, 2006, at COPAA's annual meeting of more than 350 lawyers and advocates held in Phoenix, Arizona. During the award presentation, COPAA president Selene Almazon noted that Mr. Goel had given hundreds of hours to preparing amicus curiae briefs on behalf of COPAA and that his work was "truly outstanding and demonstrated very effectively the difficulties parents face in managing the special education maze." President Almazon concluded by describing Mr. Goel's legal arguments as "both cogent and compassionate—a rare combination."
As part of the Firm's Kids First initiative, Mr. Goel led a team of McDermott lawyers in filing amicus curiae briefs in 2005 in the D.C. Circuit on the importance of the attorneys' fees provisions of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and in the U.S. Supreme Court on the burden of proof in challenges to individualized education plans proposed for disabled children. As a testament to the quality of our work, 12 leading children's rights groups also joined in the brief prepared for filing in the U.S. Supreme Court on behalf of COPAA.
The people of McDermott Will & Emery are committed to giving back to at-risk children in the communities in which they live and work. The international law firm's pro bono program, Kids First, draws from each office to provide legal representation in special education, school access and registration, school discipline, and guardian ad litem services.