Staff Attorney

Employment Type

: Full-Time


: Legal

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First consideration will be given to those applicants that apply within the first 14 days.

The Legal Office of the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) advises the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, Commissioner, and DESE staff on issues of education law, policy and administration; works with the Attorney General’s Office on litigation; oversees the Office of Professional Practice Investigations; coordinates arbitrations under the Education Reform Act; and provides information to school officials, parents and students, and other constituents on the state and federal laws affecting public elementary and secondary schools, vocational-technical education, and adult basic education programs.

The Staff Attorney position involves administrative law practice including legal research and writing; negotiation; public speaking and training; drafting regulations, legislation, and advisory opinions; addressing issues relating to public records, records retention, and data privacy; preparing for and conducting administrative adjudicatory hearings; drafting and reviewing contracts and interagency agreements; and collaborating with the Attorney General's Office on litigation – with a particular focus on special education and other programs and services for students with disabilities.

The Staff Attorney reports to the Deputy General Counsel and works closely with other colleagues in the Legal Office. The Counsel II interacts with educators and policymakers throughout DESE. The selected candidate will perform the following duties:

  • provide legal advice to DESE administrators and staff on state and federal laws governing elementary, secondary, vocational-technical, and adult basic education programs, with a particular focus on special education and other programs and services for students with disabilities;

  • analyze legal requirements relating to special education and other regulated programs and provide legal counsel to DESE’s offices of Special Education Planning and Policy, Problem Resolution Services, Special Education in Institutional Settings, Approved Special Education Schools, and Public School Monitoring; 

  • assist DESE in carrying out its public information responsibilities with careful attention to the agency’s legal duties concerning public records, records retention, and data privacy;

  • analyze and interpret laws and policies fundamental to education in the Commonwealth, including the Education Reform Act, Student Opportunity Act, Every Student Succeeds Act, and state and federal laws concerning homeless students, students in foster care, and English learners;

  • draft, review, analyze, and interpret documents including legislation, regulations, contracts, inter-agency agreements, and advisory opinions; 

  • prepare written and oral information, legal memoranda, and advisory opinions for DESE administrators and staff and local school officials concerning their duties under state and federal laws, with a focus on state and federal laws affecting the education of students with disabilities;

  • communicate and coordinate as needed with officials of other state and federal agencies, school and district leaders, parents, advocacy organizations, and other constituents regarding education laws and policies affecting students with disabilities; 

  • represent DESE in interagency meetings and negotiations;
  • prepare materials and provide training to DESE staff and school officials on new legal developments;

  • participate in formulating recommendations for the Commissioner regarding policies, legislation, and regulatory changes;

  • represent DESE in administrative adjudicatory proceedings before the Bureau of Special Education Appeals; and

  • perform other duties as assigned by the General Counsel or Deputy General Counsel, or the Commissioner.

  • Based on assignment, travel is required. 
  • Preferred Qualifications The qualified candidate will possess:

    • three (3) or more years of experience practicing law or in a position requiring

    membership in the Bar;

    • excellent analytical, legal research, and writing skills;

    • successful experience in the practice of law, including experience with some

    or all of the following: state and federal special education law; other laws

    affecting educational programs and services; administrative adjudicatory hearings

    or litigation; negotiation;

    • strong interpersonal skills, including ability to establish rapport, motivate, and

    maintain positive and productive relationships with colleagues and clients

    from diverse backgrounds;

    • ability to understand, apply, and explain the laws, rules,

    regulations, policies, procedures, specifications, standards, and guidelines

    governing education programs;

    • ability to process and assimilate detailed factual information presented orally

    or in writing;

    • ability to exercise sound judgment;

    • excellent communication skills, orally and in writing, including ability to write

    and present clear, appropriately detailed memoranda and documentation as


    • ability to strategize and work with others to solve problems;

    • ability to handle matters with mature judgment and discretion;

    • strong organizational skills, including ability to manage complex tasks and

    meet deadlines;

    • ability to work with confidential information and maintain the highest level of


    • ability to effectively manage a varied caseload while balancing multiple and

    competing priorities;

    • knowledge of state and federal education laws and the culture, organization

    and structures of public schools and districts; and

    • strong computer skills and fluency with Microsoft Word and Excel.

     ** Questions regarding this posting or the application process should be referred to

    Maureen O’Brien at Maureen.T.O' or 781-338-6107.


    First consideration will be given to those applicants that apply within the first 14 days.

    MINIMUM ENTRANCE REQUIREMENTS: Applicants must have a Juris Doctor (JD) degree, admission to the Massachusetts Bar and (A) at least three years of full-time, or equivalent part-time, professional experience in the practice of law.

    Incumbents may be required to have a current and valid Motor Vehicle Drivers License at a Class level specific to assignment.

    * The salary listed in the header is an estimate based on salary data for similar jobs in the same area. Salary or compensation data found in the job description is accurate.

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