Matt Cohen is founder of Matt Cohen & Associates and is well known for his work in special education law and has extensive experience in health care and mental health law. He has been the principal litigator in a number of important special education cases and is the primary or collaborating author of several amendments to the mental health and special education laws of Illinois. In 1997, he was invited to the White House to participate in the signing ceremony for the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act Amendments of 1997, in recognition of his participation in the process leading to the passage of that legislation.
While engaged in private law practice continuously since 1981, Matt served as the Executive Director and Corporate Counsel of a large psychiatric services corporation from 1985 to 1990. He has represented or consulted with hospitals, residential treatment centers, community mental health centers, agencies, police social workers and private health care, social services and education practitioners.
Nationally, Matt was a founding board member of the Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates (COPAA) a national special education advocacy organization, where he served on the Executive Committee from 1999 to 2003. He was recently reappointed to the Board of Directors and regularly serves on various committees and task forces. In addition, Matt was a member of the Board of Directors of the national Children and Adults with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorders (CHADD) organization from July 1995 to June 2002, serving as its President from July 1999 to June 2000. Currently, Matt serves on CHADD’s Public Policy Committee. In 2002 and 2003, Matt helped to organize the Children’s Behavioral Alliance, a national umbrella group for children’s mental health organizations. Under the auspices of the group, Matt was one of the authors of its nationally distributed policy statement, “In the Best Interest of All.”
Locally, Matt chairs the Illinois Attorney General’s Special Education Committee. He also served on the Professional Advisory Board of the Chicago chapter of CHADD. He is also currently on the Professional Advisory Board for Step Out USA, a support organization for young adults with learning disabilities located in Niles, IL. For many years, he served as convener for Friends of Special Education, an advocacy colloquium, located in Chicago. In 2001, CHADD established the Matt Cohen Scholarship Fund, named in his honor. He is the recipient of the “Gordon B Nash Sr. Public Education Award”, Greater Chicago NAMI in 2009 and 1993 “Illinois TASH Professional of the Year” award. He is also Life Board Member of Youth Organization Umbrella, located in Evanston, Illinois. In 2011, Matt received the “National CHADD Legislative Advocacy Award” and in 2012 was presented with the “Friend of Learning Disability Association of Illinois”. He has been selected to Illinois Super Lawyers every year from 2005-2015.
Matt has lectured nationally on a wide variety of special education topics, as well as on mental health and confidentiality law and has authored numerous articles on these subjects. He has been a member of the editorial boards of Ed-Law Briefing Papers, and the Disability Rights Bulletin. Matt served as legal commentator for LD Online, one of the largest online disability news services in the U.S. He also writes periodic columns for various CHADD publications and has had many articles published in various books and magazines. In addition, Matt was an adjunct professor of law at Loyola University Law School for many years and has taught at Northwestern University Law School.
In 2009, Matt authored the book A Guide to Special Education Advocacy: What Parents, Clinicians and Advocates Need to Know, published by Jessica Kingsley. He is also the author of Barriers to Inclusion in Local School in Illinois: A Blueprint for Change, funded by a grant from the Illinois Planning Council on Developmental Disabilities. Matt provided expert testimony concerning his research in the Corey H. v. Ill. State Bd. of Educ. class action in the United States District Court.
Matt received his law degree from the University of Minnesota (1981) and his bachelor’s degree from Grinnell College (1977).