Special Education Law Firm
Our team has had personal experiences with the injustices of the special education system, making us uniquely qualified and especially empathetic to our clients. We understand the struggle and it drives our passion to do everything in our power to protect the rights of children with special needs.
How We’re Different
Many law firms assign one attorney to a case. We believe it’s important to approach all cases as a team to encourage an encompassing approach where nothing is overlooked.
The Storey Behind the Passion
For me, the path to becoming a special education attorney was straight forward. I vividly remember my family’s frustration with my brother’s education. He is a year younger than I and is diagnosed with cerebral palsy (“CP”), a group of neurological disorders that effect movement. CP, like many disabilities, is abroad spectrum. Some are able to move with relative ease, for others all movement may be virtually paralyzed, bound to a chair and require constant supervision for life. I suppose fortunately, my brothers is more the former. At one point, I recall my mother arguing with the school principal about my brother being placed in a room by himself with only a television. He must have been in the 2nd or 3rd grade, and apparently this had been going on for over a month with no notification to my parents. The principal told my mom the school did not have the ability to support my brother, and the room with a television was all they could do. My parents, not knowing they may have had other options, moved my brother to a private school.
To be clear this was illegal. There is a robust set of federal and state laws which require schools to provide an appropriate education to all children with disabilities. Unfortunately, all too often they are not followed. When my brother was placed in a room by himself the school was clearly violating the law. What my parents may not have known at the time, was they were not required to just accept whatever the school offered my brother or place him at their own expense into a private school. When a parent disagrees with the IEP or its implementation they can file a complaint with the state department of education and have a judge determine whether or not the school is complying with the IDEA. I think, had I been their attorney at the time, either the school would have had to create an appropriate program or pay for my brother to attend a private school. A common outcome with cases as egregious.
Meet Our Team
Matthew Storey, Attorney
I became a special education attorney because I saw firsthand the struggles my family went through navigating the education system. When you know something is wrong, it can be daunting and sometimes feel impossible to make the necessary changes to provide our children with an appropriate education. This can feel even more so when up against a school with unlimited resources.
My goal has always been to put parents on equal footing with schools and provide effective representation. To that end we have experience from due process, to federal district court, and have argued before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.
We also believe that understanding your rights, and how special education works is a priority and spend a significant amount of time providing free trainings to the community. I have also had the pleasure of teaching at the special education program at USD School of Law, and the graduate program for school psychology at Brandman University.
I received my B.A. in Political Science and International Relations from the University of California at San Diego and Juris Doctorate from Thomas Jefferson School of Law. Prior to that I served in United States Air Force. I live in San Diego with my wife Alina, and two boys Lucas and Logan.
Marymichelle Lotano, Attorney
I was born and raised in upstate New York where I grew up as a competitive figure skater and recreational skier. As a young adult I attended Springfield College in Massachusetts. As a student at Springfield I majored in Rehabilitation Services for the Disabled with the intention of going to law school. I am a graduate of Albany Law School of Union University in Albany New York.
I began my career as a legal intern with the District Attorney’s office researching and writing appeals to the New York State Appellate Division, 3rd Department. I then entered private practice in the area of Workers’ Compensation defense litigation and appellate law before the New York State Appellate Division, 3rd Department. Subsequent thereto, I entered government service with the New York State Workers’ Compensation Board in the Office of General Counsel and was later invited to join the NYS Workers’ Compensation Board’s Office of Appeals. In addition, I am a published author with the New York State Bar Association. In 2001 I passed the California Bar examination with the intention of continuing to practice Workers’ Compensation Law.
However, when my child entered pre-school it was determined that he needed special education services. At that time, I was uneducated and unfamiliar with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, but nonetheless became a part of the system. After experiencing a lack of services and fighting for my child’s needs, I decided to return to work in a professional capacity.
I spent the early part of my career attending Independent Education Plan meetings for children with special needs. I worked closely with a local applied behavioral analysis group to provide families with cost free services. I loved my work with these families and enjoyed the IEP process tremendously.
In September 2019 I had the honor and the privilege of being offered a full time position with the Law Offices of Schwartz and Storey in San Diego. As an associate with Schwartz and Storey my knowledge and experience in the area of special education law, grew exponentially.
Today it is a pleasure to be continuing my career with the Law Office of Matthew Storey. I have had the pleasure and the opportunity to expand my skills and work in a successful collaborative team environment.
In my free time I love being with my teenage son, running, and going to the beach.
Jennifer Holzman, Attorney
I have always gravitated towards working with people and helping clients address challenges in their lives. While in college and law school, I interned at legal aid organizations to help people with HIV/AIDS secure health care and housing benefits, as well as to help immigrant victims of domestic violence to secure protections available under the Violence Against Women Act to gain safety for themselves and their children.
My first job after graduating law school was as an attorney at the Children’s Law Center of Massachusetts. The Law Center promotes equal justice and opportunity for low-income children in a variety of situations, including their educational settings. I represented children in special education and school discipline proceedings and in court-appointed care and protection cases. I learned how to address family and educational needs from some of the most dedicated, empathetic, and hard-working lawyers I have ever known. I regularly worked with parents and guardians, medical and mental health professionals, school personnel, and state social welfare agencies to effectively advocate for the best outcomes for my clients to successfully move forward in life. I also managed the Law Center’s Pro Bono panel, made up of volunteer attorneys who accepted special education cases pro bono so the Law Center could expand its reach.
I then moved to Orange County, California and worked at boutique law firms and a major e-commerce retailer in a variety of areas of law, including professional licensing defense, general civil litigation, employment law, and criminal law. But there was always the “itch at the back of my neck” to return to working with children and families.
After a few years of handling special education cases on my own, I had the wonderful opportunity to join the Law Office of Matthew Storey, APC, to work alongside other professionals who share the same goal of helping children reach their potential.
When I’m not lawyering, I am usually busy driving my kids to school and their activities, increasing my cooking repertoire, and marking destinations off my travel bucket list. I live with my family in Laguna Beach, California.
J.D., Suffolk University Law School
Boston B.A., Boston College, Sociology
Licensed to practice in California and Massachusetts
As the Office Manager and Interpreter at The Law Office of Matthew Storey, APC my job is to oversee the office operations, help and interpret for Spanish speaking clients.
I was born and raised in San Diego and have lived here my whole life. I enjoy spending time with my children, I also enjoy volunteering, being by the water, standup paddle boarding, kayaking, jogging, and traveling.
After pursuing a degree in Business Administration with an emphasis on management, I decided to enter the legal field. After beginning my career as an assistant at a personal injury law firm, I joined Mr. Storey’s team where I’ve continued to grow my skills and expertise over the past 8 years. I have dedicated my entire career to advocating for clients, and have a specific interest in guiding Spanish speaking clients through the legal process.
Working in the special education field is both challenging and rewarding, I love that what I do has a positive impact on a child’s education.