Why I advocate for the legal rights of Arizona Students with Disabilities and Learning Differences

My law firm focuses its practice on special education law, specifically representing students and families in disputes with school districts and charter schools. I have been able to help students throughout the Valley (Phoenix, Tempe, Mesa, Scottsdale and other cities) and across the State of Arizona including Flagstaff, Tucson, Yuma and in rural communities.

Growing up poor in New York City, I watched my mother fight for her children to receive the best education possible despite her limited resources. Seeing her brother back in Ireland struggle with disabilities and not get the help he needed inspired my mother to eventually become a special education teacher. All this led me to a career to help people who might not be able to help themselves.

I received my law degree from the University of Notre Dame Law School, and have practiced as a litigator throughout my career. I began my career in Chicago representing workers and their families injured or killed by exposure to asbestos. I have represented hundreds of clients in personal injury and workers' compensation actions including medical malpractice, construction injuries, auto accidents, and nursing home abuse and neglect cases.

Recently, I was selected as one of the Top 50 Pro Bono Attorneys in Arizona “to recognize the extraordinary contributions to those in legal crisis and providing access to justice to Arizonans in need of legal aid.”

My personal journey toward special education law began with my oldest son. My wife and I were completely unprepared when he unexpectedly struggled in any and all school settings (and I assure you we tried a lot of different settings!). It felt like we were in a dark forest and we could not find a path or direction to getting our child the education he needed. Some disabilities and learning differences are not as obvious as others. We sadly found that many believe invisible is the same as imaginary. Blame instead of validation was what we often received for our family’s struggles due to school problems.

During one of my son’s many occupational therapist appointments, I was shocked to hear other parents tell stories of their struggles with schools. Many felt forced to homeschool their children because the schools told them they could not or would not provide the services or programs the student needed. As an attorney I knew the legal rights of these families/students were being violated.

In 2011, I started my law firm to help students get the needed services from school districts. My entire legal career has been dedicated to representing and advocating on behalf of individuals who have been injured or otherwise affected by the actions of others. These years representing students with disabilities have been the most fulfilling of my career as an attorney.

Read what some of my clients have said about our experiences together on our Testimonials page. 

 

Education:

University of Notre Dame Law School, Juris Doctor, 1997

State University of New York at Geneseo, B.A. Political Science, 1993

Bar Admissions:

Richard J. Murphy is licensed to practice law in Arizona (2008), Illinois (1998) and New York (1998)

In addition, Richard has been admitted to practice in Federal Court in Arizona and for the Northern District of Illinois and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals

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