Our Commitment is both Personal and Professional
About the Founder
Matt Cohen is founder of Matt Cohen & Associates and is well known for his work in special education law and has extensive experience in mental health and human services law. He has litigated numerous special education cases and has represented thousands of chilcren and adults with disabilities and their families. He is also 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. He was reappointed to the Board of Directors a number of years ago 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. 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 has been on the board of Our Place of New Trier Township, a program for young adults with disabilities, for several years. He also chaired the Illinois Attorney General’s Special Education Committee for over twenty five years, leaving the Committee in 2019. 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”, from 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 2005-2022, as well as being selected as an Illinois “Leading Lawyer” for many years.
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 is frequently quoted by the news media on special education issues. 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 received his law degree from the University of Minnesota (1981) and his bachelor’s degree from Grinnell College (1977). Matt has two adult sons and loves spending time with them.