Insight

What Makes a Good Education Attorney?

Alyce Alfano of Shipman & Goodwin discusses her 2019 "Lawyer of the Year" award for Education Law in Connecticut.

Alyce Alfano Interview "Lawyer of the Year"
Best Lawyers

Best Lawyers

April 5, 2019 05:17 PM

Like many highly accomplished attorneys, Alyce Alfano attributes the success she’s found in her practice area to her ability to see a problem from all sides. Alfano has practiced education law for 27 years. In that time, the two-time “Lawyer of the Year” honoree has represented parents, students, and school districts and briefly served as a mediator for the Connecticut State Department of Education.

“I’ve been on all sides of the issue, and that’s given me a really good perspective,” says Alfano, of what she believes helps her to stand out from her peers.

Education law is a niche practice, according to Alfano, and one that poses a unique set of challenges to the attorneys representing school districts and agencies, as she does now. “The biggest challenge is the cost to local educational agencies, with all that they are supposed to do, and that they are consistently considered to be the deep pockets because there is so much cut back from society and from a familial perspective. It seems like the school districts are left responsible for more than any other entity,” Alfano says. “Budget shortcuts are certainly a huge issue here in Connecticut. Money is always tight. But I think also there is no other state agency mandated to do things anymore like make a residential placement, and so the school districts are always the ones ultimately held responsible. The goal is to hold them responsible for much beyond the students’ actual education.”

Resolving these issues takes more than just an understanding of the law, although in a specialized field like education, a rigorous knowledge of law and policy is crucial. But beyond this, for an education attorney to truly shine, he or she needs to possess a nuanced set of soft skills.

“A good education attorney has to be very accessible to clients, a lot of situations come up and you have to be able to respond and be flexible, and I think that it requires a lot of problem-solving and creativity,” Alfano says. “I think it requires empathy for both sides. Even though I represent school districts and boards of education, you must have empathy for the people worried about their children and for the human aspects of the policy. Because whenever people talk about their children, of course, it doesn’t get much more personal than that.”

Related Articles

"Lawyer of the Year"


Lawyer with suit posing and smiling for headshot

Laurie R. Bishop

Education Law

Boston, MA

2024

"Lawyer of the Year"


Thomas B. Mooney

Thomas B. Mooney

Education Law

Hartford, CT

2024

Connecticut "Lawyer of the Year" 2022


by Best Lawyers

Tanya A. Bovée is honored as 2022 "Lawyer of the Year" in Connecticut for Employment Law-Management.

Connecticut "Lawyer of the Year" 2022

Laurie R. Bishop - Boston 2020 Lawyer of the Year


by Best Lawyers

Education Law Boston, Massachusetts

Laurie Bishop

Nina T. Pirrotti - New Haven 2020 Lawyer of the Year


by Best Lawyers

Employment Law - Individuals New Haven, Connecticut

Nina Pirrotti

An Interview With Elizabeth B. Meers of Hogan Lovells


by Best Lawyers

The Education Law "Lawyer of the Year" award-winner in D.C. discusses how she came into her practice and her most memorable cases.

Elizabeth B. Meers Hogan Lovells Interview

"Lawyer of the Year"


Lawyer wearing suit poses for headshot

Ed Snow

Commercial Finance Law

Atlanta, GA

2024

"Lawyer of the Year"


Lawyer in suit poses for a headshot photo

Jeffrey A. Weissman

Family Law

Fort Lauderdale, FL

2024

"Lawyer of the Year"


Headshot of the D.C. Lawyer of the Year Honoree

Adam J. August

Corporate Law

Washington, D.C., VA

2024

Announcing The Best Lawyers in Germany™ 2023


by Best Lawyers

The results include an elite field of top lawyers and firms from Germany.

Black, red and yellow stripes

Announcing The Best Lawyers in Switzerland™ 2023


by Best Lawyers

The results include an elite field of top lawyers and firms from Switzerland.

Red flag with white cross

Announcing The Best Lawyers in Austria™ 2023


by Best Lawyers

The results include an elite field of top lawyers and firms from Austria.

Red and white stripes

Announcing The Best Lawyers in Belgium™ 2023


by Best Lawyers

The results include an elite field of top lawyers and firms from Belgium.

Black, yellow and red stripes

Announcing The Best Lawyers in Italy™ 2023


by Best Lawyers

The results include an elite field of top lawyers and firms from Italy.

Green, white and red stripes

What the Courts Say About Recording in the Classroom


by Christina Henagen Peer and Peter Zawadski

Students and parents are increasingly asking to use audio devices to record what's being said in the classroom. But is it legal? A recent ruling offer gives the answer to a question confusing parents and administrators alike.

Is It Legal for Students to Record Teachers?

Pennsylvania "Lawyer of the Year" 2022


by Best Lawyers

Wendelynne J. Newton is honored as 2022 "Lawyer of the Year" in Pennsylvania for Litigation-Healthcare.

Pennsylvania "Lawyer of the Year" 2022

Trending Articles

The 2024 Best Lawyers in Spain™


by Best Lawyers

Best Lawyers is honored to announce the 16th edition of The Best Lawyers in Spain™ and the third edition of Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch in Spain™ for 2024.

Tall buildings and rushing traffic against clouds and sun in sky

Presenting The Best Lawyers in Australia™ 2025


by Best Lawyers

Best Lawyers is proud to present The Best Lawyers in Australia for 2025, marking the 17th consecutive year of Best Lawyers awards in Australia.

Australia flag over outline of country

Best Lawyers Expands Chilean 2024 Awards


by Best Lawyers

Best Lawyers is pleased to announce the 14th edition of The Best Lawyers in Chile™ and the inaugural edition of Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch in Chile™, honoring the top lawyers and firms conferred on by their Chilean peers.

Landscape of city in Chile

Best Lawyers Expands 2024 Brazilian Awards


by Best Lawyers

Best Lawyers is honored to announce the 14th edition of The Best Lawyers in Brazil™ and the first edition of Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch in Brazil™.

Image of Brazil city and water from sky

Announcing The Best Lawyers in South Africa™ 2024


by Best Lawyers

Best Lawyers is excited to announce the landmark 15th edition of The Best Lawyers in South Africa™ for 2024, including the exclusive "Law Firm of the Year" awards.

Sky view of South Africa town and waterways

The Best Lawyers in Mexico Celebrates a Milestone Year


by Best Lawyers

Best Lawyers is excited to announce the 15th edition of The Best Lawyers in Mexico™ and the second edition of Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch in Mexico™ for 2024.

Sky view of Mexico city scape

How Palworld Is Testing the Limits of Nintendo’s Legal Power


by Gregory Sirico

Many are calling the new game Palworld “Pokémon GO with guns,” noting the games striking similarities. Experts speculate how Nintendo could take legal action.

Animated figures with guns stand on top of creatures

The Best Lawyers in Portugal™ 2024


by Best Lawyers

The 2024 awards for Portugal include the 14th edition of The Best Lawyers in Portugal™ and 2nd edition of Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch in Portugal™.

City and beach with green water and blue sky

The Best Lawyers in Peru™ 2024


by Best Lawyers

Best Lawyers is excited to announce the landmark 10th edition of The Best Lawyers in Peru, the prestigious award recognizing the country's lop legal talent.

Landscape of Peru city with cliffside and ocean

How To Find A Pro Bono Lawyer


by Best Lawyers

Best Lawyers dives into the vital role pro bono lawyers play in ensuring access to justice for all and the transformative impact they have on communities.

Hands joined around a table with phone, paper, pen and glasses

Presenting the 2024 Best Lawyers Family Law Legal Guide


by Best Lawyers

The 2024 Best Lawyers Family Law Legal Guide is now live and includes recognitions for all Best Lawyers family law awards. Read below and explore the legal guide.

Man entering home and hugging two children in doorway

The Best Lawyers in Colombia™ 2024


by Best Lawyers

Best Lawyers is honored to announce the 14th edition of The Best Lawyers in Colombia™ for 2024, which honors Colombia's most esteemed lawyers and law firms.

Cityscape of Colombia with blue cloudy sky above

Announcing the 2024 Best Lawyers in Puerto Rico™


by Best Lawyers

Best Lawyers is proud to announce the 11th edition of The Best Lawyers in Puerto Rico™, honoring the top lawyers and firms across the country for 2024.

View of Puerto Rico city from the ocean

Announcing The Best Lawyers in Japan™ 2025


by Best Lawyers

For a milestone 15th edition, Best Lawyers is proud to announce The Best Lawyers in Japan.

Japan flag over outline of country

Announcing The Best Lawyers in New Zealand™ 2025 Awards


by Best Lawyers

Best Lawyers is announcing the 16th edition of The Best Lawyers in New Zealand for 2025, including individual Best Lawyers and "Lawyer of the Year" awards.

New Zealand flag over image of country outline

Canada Makes First Foray Into AI Regulation


by Sara Collin

As Artificial Intelligence continues to rise in use and popularity, many countries are working to ensure proper regulation. Canada has just made its first foray into AI regulation.

People standing in front of large, green pixelated image of buildings