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T-2. Appellate Litigation: A Roadmap to Winning IDEA Cases on Appeal

One Day Session

Thursday, March 8th

9:00 am - 5:00 PM

Audience Category: Attorney

Audience Level of Expertise: All


Brief Session Description:

This full-day workshop teaches the necessary skills for appellate litigation; focusing on all stages of appellate litigation: from the decision to appeal to deciding whether to seek certiorari. Writing briefs, preparing for oral argument, and amicus strategy are all addressed.




Alice K. Nelson
Nelson Law Group
c/o 14043 Shady Shores Drive
Tampa, FL 33613


Ellen Saideman
Law Office of Ellen Saideman
7 Henry Drive

Barrington, RI  02806




Presenter(s) Biography(ies):

Ms. Nelson is Of Counsel to Nelson Law Group.  She practiced with Southern Legal Counsel, Inc. (www.southernlegal.org), Florida’s first public interest law firm.  She started there in 1988 and was Executive Director from 1988 to 2004.  She was awarded a Fulbright grant to be a Senior Lecturer at the University of Ankara Law School to teach a 2009-2010 graduate seminar on the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment. Ms. Nelson is the Past Chair for the Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates (COPAA), and has previously chaired COPAA’s Amicus Committee and continues to serve on that committee.  She has been Lead Trainer for Advanced Attorney Skills Trainings and lead or participated in other COPAA trainings. She has litigated extensively in federal court on behalf of adults with developmental disabilities and severe mental illness, on behalf of children with special needs for special education, and general civil rights.  She is Lead Trainer for the Shriver Center’s Affirmative Litigation Training that focuses on training public interest lawyers in federal practice.

Ellen Saideman has more than thirty years of experience with litigation and legal writing, both as an attorney and as a professor of legal writing.  She is admitted to the bar in four states (Florida, Massachusetts, New York, and Rhode Island) as well as five federal district courts, four federal circuit courts, and the U.S. Supreme court.   She has done special education work, including IDEA due process cases, in all four states.   She has worked as a civil rights and disability rights attorney since 1986 when she joined the New York City Commission on Human Rights.  She served as Deputy Director and then Director of the Equal Employment and Public Accommodation Division, where she oversaw the intake and investigation of discrimination complaints.  She then joined New York Lawyers for the Public Interest as a staff attorney in its disability rights unit.   Her work there included Burr v. Sobol, which established compensatory education as a remedy for special education and also attorneys’fees for administrative hearings under IDEA.   She also trained private bar attorneys to do special education cases and provided them with support.  When NYLPI established its Disability Law Center, Ellen became Director.   Under her leadership, NYLPI filed four of the first ADA Title II complaints with the U.S. Department of Justice, including a case that resulted in making the Empire State Building’s observation deck accessible.  In Florida, she worked for Legal Services for Greater Miami for a year and then worked for the Advocacy Center for Persons with Disabilities (now Disability Rights Florida).  There, her work included special education cases as well as class action lawsuits, including Prado-Steiman v. Bush, which resulted in a settlement that required Florida’s Medicaid program to improve and expand its Home and Community based Waiver program for people with developmental disabilities. After moving to Rhode Island, she taught legal writing at Roger Williams University School of Law for thirteen years and also continued disability rights work, both in Florida and Rhode Island. She now has a private practice that includes special education.   She often works with the American Civil Liberties Union of Rhode Island, the Disability Law Center of Massachusetts, Rhode Island Legal Services, and the Rhode Island Disability Law Center, both on individual cases and on systemic law reform work including special education.

Ellen is co-chair of the COPAA amicus committee and has co-authored about nine amicus briefs for COPAA as well as numerous other amicus briefs for other organizations.  She participated in writing COPAA’s amicus briefs in both Fry and Endrew F.  She has also provided training in legal writing, special education, and IEEs to COPAA, NDRN, and other organizations.  


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