By Hinkle, Fingles & Prior, Attorneys at Law

As the firm celebrates 40 years of advocacy on behalf of individuals with developmental disabilities, it developed a Pro bono Program, the goal of which is to provide legal representation to families that would not otherwise be able to secure this level of advocacy for their child. The firm plans to handle a very limited number of cases that come to it through its relationships with disability-related community organizations. For years, Hinkle Fingles & Prior has consistently supported many of the organizations providing services to people with disabilities by providing free educational workshops focused on helping families understand their rights, serving on boards of directors to many disability-related non-profit organizations, and by providing financial support to several of the largest advocacy organizations. Hinkle, Fingles & Prior’s Pro bono Program is a natural extension of the firm’s long-standing commitment to serve the community.

Our new Pro bono Program is a natural fit. The firm’s founder, Herbert Hinkle, Ira, and I all started our careers by providing free legal representation to families of persons with disabilities. We are proud to continue that mission.

– S. Paul Prior, Esq., Partner

Shortly, after the Pro bono Program was announced, the firm was asked to represent a widowed father and his 19-year-old son with intellectual, social and emotional disabilities. The teen, who has severe learning disabilities and attends a specialized school in Morris County, had been in special education since kindergarten. In this case, in contradiction to the student’s individual education Plan (“IEP”), the school district attempted to graduate the student before the end of his educational entitlement and transfer him from his current out-of-district placement to an inappropriate in-district program.

Hinkle, Fingles & Prior interceded on the student’s behalf to ensure the local school district continued to provide crucially needed special education services in his current school placement. Due to the firm’s advocacy the student will continue in his current placement for at least one more year.

“When we learned the facts in this case, we knew this student and his father needed immediate legal representation,” said Andrew Linenberg, Esq., the attorney who handled the case for the firm. “If this young man was forced to graduate early, he would literally sit home without services or supports, until he turns 21 and becomes eligible for adult services,” he added. “The extra year of school will provide him with the skills and training to potentially work in a paid job once he graduates.”

Under federal special education law, students with disabilities may remain in school until they turn 21. Beginning at age 14, planning for adult life must begin, and linkages to post-secondary services must be secured. In this case, the district had not made such plans nor was the student legally able to graduate this year.

We are very happy to have secured such an important victory for this family due to the specialized legal representation provided through our long-standing and successful special education practice. Our long-standing commitment to serving the wider disability community remains strong.

– Ira M. Fingles, Esq., Partner

Now celebrating 40 years of advocacy and legal representation for those with disabilities, including autism, intellectual disabilities and other conditions, the attorneys of Hinkle, Fingles & Prior have argued many precedent setting cases in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. The firms’ lifespan approach to disability law and planning, and the fact that many of the attorneys have family members with disabilities, makes them unique.

Published on Aug 12th, 2013. © Copyright 2013 Hinkle, Fingles & Prior, P.C., Attorneys at Law. All rights reserved.
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Hinkle, Fingles, & Prior, P.C., Attorneys at Law is a multi-state law practice with offices in Lawrenceville, Cherry Hill, Florham Park, and Paramus, New Jersey, and Plymouth Meeting and Bala Cynwyd, Pennsylvania. The firm's partners and associates lecture and write frequently on topics of elder law, estate planning, special needs trusts, guardianship, special education, health care insurance & Medicaid, and accessing adult services, and are available to speak to groups in New Jersey and Pennsylvania at no charge. For more information, visit http://www.hinkle1.com/ or call (609) 896-4200, or (215) 860-2100.