Michael Zatopa graduated Cum Laude from the University of San Francisco in 1975 and from the University of California, Hastings College of the Law in 1978. Michael was admitted to the California and Federal bars in 1978 and was a California special education hearing officer from 1979 to 1982.
Michael entered private practice in San Francisco in 1982, and since that time has represented and assisted thousands of parents of disabled and special needs children and adults with developmental disabilities. Michael has assisted these families in identifying the nature of their children's disabilities and the appropriate services/placements they need and in obtaining public provision and/or financial support for those services/placements.
Michael has also provided legal counsel to many residential treatment facilities, private special education schools, and other private social service providers who are funded, licensed or regulated by public agencies.
Michael has lectured at San Francisco State University, Hastings College of the Law and California State University at Fresno, contributed to several special education law books, written numerous articles in the field, and has been a certified trainer in the field of juvenile justice. Michael has also been board president for two non-profit corporations in the field of child welfare and a board member of an educational non-profit corporation. He lives in San Francisco, California, with his wife Ellen Stephens, a nurse-attorney who has practiced law with him since 1990.
Lawrence Siegel received his A.B. and M.A. from the University of California, Berkeley and his J.D. from Hastings College of the Law; he has been a Special Education Attorney and Advocate since 1979 , and has represented children with disabilities in IEPs, due process, complaints, legal action and before legislative and policy bodies.
Lawrence has lectured and consulted with advocacy and parent groups throughout the country and was appointed by the California Legislature to the California Advisory Commission on Special Education. He has written and helped enact special education legislation in many states and is the author of Least Restrictive Environment: The Paradox of Inclusion (LRP Publications, 1994), The Complete IEP Guide (Nolo Press, 8th Ed.), and The Human Right to Language (Gallaudet University Press).
Lawrence is the founder and Director of the National Deaf Education Project which works to ensure that the fundamental communication needs of deaf and hard of hearing children are part of the educational system. In 2004-5 he was appointed to an endowed chair at Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C. for his work as a special education advocate.
He has advised Gifu University in Japan on its special education law and policy and is a Fulbright Scholar, currently working with Stockholm University on Swedish special education law. He lives in Fairfax, California, with his wife Gail.