Gibbons Launches Child Advocacy Team


June 8, 2018

Gibbons P.C. is pleased to announce the creation and launch of its Child Advocacy Team, led by Debra A. Clifford and Mary Frances Palisano, Directors in the firm’s Commercial & Criminal Litigation Department.

The Gibbons Child Advocacy Team is committed to addressing the legal needs of children and their families. The Team provides sound, practical advice and personal, hands-on representation in the areas of special education law, school discipline, student rights, and juvenile delinquency and criminal matters. In particular, they counsel parents and guardians of special needs students in their efforts to secure the necessary educations services, support, and accommodations to which their children are entitled under New Jersey and federal law. Team lawyers possess the knowledge and experience to resolve disputes through negotiation or litigation before the Office of Administrative Law or state or federal courts and clients can expect to receive personal, hands-on representation when they need it most.

“Child advocacy at first didn’t seem to be a natural fit for Gibbons, which mainly represents corporate clients rather than individuals. But – noting the high level of need in this area in their pro bono practices and personal lives, and relying on the notion that a large number of the professionals we work with at our clients’ companies are, in fact, parents themselves – Deb and Mary Fran were able to get the practice off the ground and make a difference to the firm’s bottom line while, more importantly, providing much-needed assistance to area parents and families,” said Patrick C. Dunican Jr., Chairman and Managing Director of the firm.

Ms. Clifford notes that her experience as the parent of a child involved in special education programs also helped her to determine that there is a market for legal services aimed at parents navigating the complex, often overwhelming special education system. Ms. Palisano focuses her broader practice on criminal defense, which helped the team add school discipline and juvenile delinquency advice and counsel to their list of capabilities.