FacultyFaculty/Author Profile

Karen S. Norlander

Girvin & Ferlazzo PC
Special Counsel
Albany, NY, USA


Karen Norlander began her practice in education law in Westchester County as general counsel to Student Advocacy Inc. which in cooperation with Westchester Legal Services brought the first cases on behalf of homeless students to receive an education.  In 1989, Ms. Norlander moved to Albany, New York to become Associate Counsel and managing attorney for elementary and secondary education with the New York State Education Department. In 1996, Ms. Norlander assumed the position of general counsel for Statewide Youth Advocacy Inc. where she became involved in statewide advocacy initiatives on behalf of children with special needs.  For several years, both in Westchester and in the Capitol Region, Ms. Norlander served as a lawyer to children in the Family Courts  and continues to maintain a private practice and serves as a state certified impartial hearing officer.   

In 1999, Ms. Norlander  became special counsel to Girvin & Ferlazzo, an Albany based law firm that represents more than 60 school districts statewide where she  built a preventive law practice focusing on the rights of children with disabilities and special education.  Since joining the firm, Ms. Norlander has also represented school districts throughout the state in administrative hearings and litigation in state and federal courts in matters involving the right to a free and appropriate public education under §504 and IDEA.  Over the years, Ms. Norlander has enjoyed college and graduate level teaching, writing and lecturing on a myriad of special education matters to a wide range of professionals.  Ms. Norlander is the author of the laminate published by National Publishing Resources (NPR) on IDEA and §504. She is a member of the State Bar Association and the American Bar Association, and a  board member of Mediation Matters, a not for profit organization dedicated to alternative dispute resolution.  Ms. Norlander holds a Masters in Social Work from Columbia University and a law degree from Pace University.  In addition to admission to the New York State Bar, she is admitted to practice before the Federal Courts in the Eastern, Southern and Northern Districts of New York, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals and the United States Supreme Court.  

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