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Leslie Seid Margolis Advocates for Children with Disabilities
Leslie Seid Margolis Advocates for Children with Disabilities PhotoBy Lisa Moss

When I think about Leslie Seid Margolis, I think of a tireless champion for children with special needs. Leslie knew early on that she wanted to focus her energy on social policy and public interest law. Everything seemed to draw her toward the Maryland Disability Law Center where she found what she describes as her perfect job. Initially she worked in all areas of disability law but special education quickly became her niche.

After dedicating her life to children with disabilities, she entered this world from the opposite side when her daughter was born with lissencephaly, a rare genetic brain development disorder that results in significant physical and cognitive disabilities. She would experience first-hand what her clients struggled with as she faced the challenges that came with this diagnosis, including difficult to control seizures. When asked to talk about this ironic turn of events, Leslie said, “Although I have always been empathetic, I found being a parent and doing special education law has added a new level to my parenting and my legal work. It has made me a better lawyer.”

Leslie’s dedication and passion for her work is evident when you talk to her. She is modest and unassuming and expresses herself beautifully, sharing compelling explanations of the law and some of the challenges families face. She can recount horrible situations of children with special needs being discriminated against through restraint and seclusion, bullying and even being denied emergency medications when having a seizure. The realities of what these children experience invigorate her to make things right, one child at a time. Her work encompasses child-by-child change through individual casework and systemic change through litigation and policy work. Leslie says, “This is why I love what I do – I can focus on individual children and systemic change at the same time.”

Leslie is the chair of the Education Advocacy Coalition and serves on the board of directors of the National Epilepsy Foundation and the Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates. In addition to representing children with disabilities, she also aims at helping families build better relationships with the school and their IEP team. She speaks at family conferences on this topic and wrote “Legal Rights of Children with Epilepsy in School and Childcare – An Advocate’s Manual” to help families navigate the IEP system. Having a daughter with an IEP gives Leslie a unique insight and she recognizes this, saying “because I have personal experience in the system, I understand how hard it is for parents and I try to make the process more tolerable for them.”

When I asked Leslie who inspires her, she talked about the parents and children she represents and her colleagues, but the people who inspire Leslie the most are special needs foster parents she has met, some of whom make arrangements to continue to care for these children as they transition into adulthood. She says, “I find it very inspirational that there are people who choose to raise children like ours. They are amazing people who do things they don’t have to do. They do it because they have an intense love for children.”

Parent Advocacy: What You Should Do...and Not Do
by Leslie Seid Margolis, Esq.


Legal Rights of Children with Epilepsy in School and Childcare – An Advocate’s Manual
 
 
 
 
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