About Jennifer Chang
Education Rights Attorney
Jennifer Chang is a California Education Rights Attorney who fights for children with special needs to get them the education and services they are entitled to by law. These students and their families are the heart of Jennifer’s practice, and she has worked tirelessly over the last decade to bring them the same educational opportunities and chances given to any other student in the American school system.
Equally important to Jennifer’s practice is helping the families of students with special needs learn to advocate for themselves and their child, and hold the school system accountable when it comes to providing the right educational opportunities.
Millions of children in the U.S. have special needs because of mental and physical disabilities, and far too often, they are either disregarded or stigmatized by educators. These children are entitled to an appropriate education under federal and state laws, including the Individuals and Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
Through public schooling, all children have the right to a free and appropriate public education or FAPE. Jennifer works to protect students with disabilities and ensure they receive the curriculum and services they need from the school and/or school district. Additionally, she works with students and their families to address and resolve allegations and disciplinary actions from private schools.
No issue is too small when it comes to the needs of special education children, and Jennifer’s practice covers numerous areas. Some of those include students being bullied at school by peers or even teachers, cases where a student’s disability is the reason for their expulsion or suspension, and getting students more adequate services than they are currently receiving for their disabilities.
For example, Jennifer represented one student with severe emotional disturbances and a history of anxiety, depression, and self-medication with illegal substances. Working with the student’s family, she was able to get the school district to fund a stay at an out-of-state, residential treatment center for the student.
In another notable case, a public school could not meet a student’s specific needs and was therefore unable to provide the free and appropriate education that the child was entitled to. Jennifer represented the child and their family, eventually getting the school district to fund a non-public school that would meet the child’s needs.
Jennifer also advocates for children and families dealing with manifestation determination, compliance complaints, IEP meetings, behavior interventions, due process proceedings, and juvenile court proceedings, among others.
Jennifer graduated from California State University-Northridge with a B.S. in Sociology in Criminology and Criminal Justice. She received her Juris Doctor with Distinction in Public Service from Southwestern School of Law. She started her own firm, the Law Offices of Jennifer Chang, in order to better serve children with special needs in all types of schooling environments.
Fighting for Her Community
Initially, Jennifer’s practice focused on the Korean-American community, which she grew up in and remains firmly a part of. In recent years, her work has expanded so that she is available to assist and advocate for potentially any child with special needs.
Jennifer nonetheless maintains her roots in the Korean-American community through her work for various groups within that sphere. Since 2016, she has taught the Training Individuals for Grassroots Education Reform (TIGER) program at the Learning Rights Law Center in Los Angeles. TIGER is a self-advocacy program that trains families in need to advocate for themselves when it comes to the special education system. Jennifer teaches Korean families participating in this program. She also sponsors programs within the Korean American Special Education Center, which has assisted Korean-Americans with disabilities in learning and growing in sports, music, dance, and social skills for more than 20 years.
Jennifer was one of 24 attorneys selected to be a Fellow in the 2021-2022 Leadership Advancement Program for the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA), which is the national voice for Asian Pacific attorneys. The experiential program helps rising attorneys develop their own leadership styles and prepares them for taking on greater and greater challenges in their legal practice. Jennifer was one of the few solo female fellows in the cohort.
She received a scholarship to and completed, an intensive professional training program in the art of Trial Skills at the National Institute for Trial Advocacy (NITA) Building Trial Skills.
Jennifer frequently participates in various events as a speaker. She presents regularly to family support groups and was recently a featured speaker at Southwestern Law School’s Asian Pacific American Law Student Association’s celebration of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders’ heritage month.
Supporting Tomorrow’s Leaders
In addition to advocating for children with special needs, Jennifer is also eager to support her fellow lawyers. To that end, she established a scholarship program at Southwestern Law to assist the next generation of attorneys with their education. Each semester, the scholarship program awards a total of $1500 – $1000 to a first-generation Clinic student committed to making a difference for children and for their communities, and an additional $500 goes to the Clinic to support them for the pro-bono services they provide to underserved families.
Southwestern Law School, J.D.
California State University, Northridge, B.S.
Special Education Law Columnist with The Korean Daily
Professional Associations and Memberships
- Asian Americans Advancing Justice, Pro Bono Advisory Council
- Korean American Special Education Center, Advisory Board
- T.I.G.E.R. (Teaching Individuals for Grassroots Education Reform) Program, Teacher
- Special Education Law Columnist with The Korean Daily
- Autism Speaks, Member
- Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates (COPAA), Member