COSA's logo and the text "supporting leadership in legal advocacy for public schools"

Supporting Leadership in Legal Advocacy for Public Schools

The Council of School Attorneys (COSA) supports school attorneys in their representation of public school boards by providing leadership in legal advocacy for public schools.

COSA provides a national forum for the discussion of legal issues and problems encountered by school attorneys in providing legal counsel, advice, and representation to school boards and school boards associations. It also promotes and helps develop a closer relationship and better understanding between school attorneys and their clients, school boards and school boards associations.

The Council provides information and practical assistance to more than 3,000 attorneys representing K-12 public school districts and state school boards associations.

Call for Proposals

The NSBA Council of School Attorneys invites its members to submit proposals for our 2021 School Law Seminar to be held April 8-10 in New Orleans, LA. The Seminar will take place at the New Orleans Marriott, centrally located in the city, a short 1-minute walk from Canal Street and a 10-minute walk from the famous beignets at Café Du Monde. We are always looking to expand both the topics and speakers at this Seminar. If you haven’t presented at a COSA seminar, but have experience presenting at the state or national level and are knowledgeable about a particular topic area, we encourage you to submit a proposal.

Answers to frequently asked questions appear below. Please feel free to contact Cheryl Richardson (crichardson@nsba.org) for further information.

Deadline: Friday, August 14, 2020

  • What do I need to know about the seminar before submitting my proposal?

    The School Law Seminar attracts nearly 400 school attorneys from the U.S. and Canada. These attorneys are employed by firms, by school districts, and by state school boards associations. They are an engaged, energetic, and informed audience with important questions and examples to share from their practices. For the most part, our attendees have many years of experience in the school law field. They are looking for in-depth materials and discussion, not an introduction to your subject. Our most highly-rated speakers are engaging, have extensive knowledge of their subject areas, and encourage active audience participation.

    COSA applies for CLE credit in all states with a mandatory CLE requirement. This seminar will offer at least 1 hour of ethics credit and 10-12 hours of CLE in total.

    Although the program format is subject to change based on public health data, we are anticipating a hybrid event that allows for in-person and virtual attendance of the seminar. All presentations should be designed to involve both types of participants in a meaningful way.

    Speaking and presentation tips are included with this proposal information. 

  • If my proposal is accepted, what materials will I be required to submit?

    Because COSA seeks approval of our Seminar for CLE credit, all sessions must be supported by substantive materials with legal references. COSA requires a presentation paper as well as a visual presentation such as a power point slide deck. Papers will be due in late December/early January, and visual presentations will be due in early February. Your materials must be submitted in final, edited and proofed form. We will not do significant editing or proofreading before publication. COSA reserves the right to withdraw an invitation to present at the 2021 School Law Seminar if materials are not received in a timely fashion or are inappropriate for publication.
  • If my proposal is accepted, which of my expenses does COSA cover?

    COSA offers one complimentary registration and one complimentary hotel night per session. Additional presenters who wish to attend the Seminar will be required to register and cover their individual travel expenses. Please know this is subject to change once the format of the seminar is finalized.
  • May I submit my name and speaking resume, rather than a formal proposal?

    Yes. You may submit a resume listing areas of expertise, prior speaking experience, and references. Speaker resumes may be used by the Committee to fill speaking slots at the School Law Seminar, and will be retained by COSA. Future seminar committees and COSA staff may refer to resumes to fill other speaking opportunities.

    If you would like to be considered in this manner, please send your speaking resume to Cheryl Richardson at crichardson@nsba.org
  • What is the proposal/speaker approval process?

    Please use the attached Session Proposal form to submit a proposal for a specific session.

    All proposals/resumes received by Friday, July 31, 2020 will be evaluated by the seminar planning committee. Each firm or organization may submit up to three (3) proposals. The committee will make every effort to contact invited presenters by September 2020.

    You may submit a short video, but please do not submit audio tapes, or materials of an extensive length with your proposal, as the selection committee will not be able to review them. If you intend to submit a video, please notify Cheryl Richardson at crichardson@nsba.org prior to submission.

    The committee vets speakers with state school boards associations, and gives preference to speakers with significant success presenting to attorneys at the state and/or national level.

    However, new speakers are encouraged to submit a proposal. The Committee is always looking for new dynamic and engaging speakers to include in the program. New speakers, please provide a reference to serve as an endorsement of your presentation skills.


  • What topics would the Seminar Committee like to see on the Seminar program?

    The Seminar Committee encourages proposals for sessions that address current and relevant school law issues in an in-depth and interactive manner. Please submit proposals on topics that you know well, and have experience addressing with school board clients, even if the topic does not appear on the lists below. We are open to any topic that is of interest and current relevance to public schools.

    Here is an example of a list of proposed topics for this year’s Seminar. NOTE: This list is not exhaustive; rather, we encourage you to submit a proposal for one of these topics or others that you believe would be relevant and timely for school attorneys:

    • Equity (should permeate every session)
      • Successes and lessons learned; Issues raised by Black Lives Matter; Structuring academic programs in light of OCR concerns (magnet, AP, high level math, STEM)
    • Pandemic Recovery
      • Mental health
      • Staff, student accommodations (ADA, 504)
      • Changes to operations post-pandemic and legal lessons learned
    • Bullying (students and employees)
    • The role of the school attorney in a crisis
    • Law enforcement in schools
    • Labor & Employment
      • Privacy concerns; teacher evaluations
    • Special Education
      • “Recovery” v. Compensatory” services – what are hearing officers and courts ruling? Is there an identifiable standard evolving?
    • Technology
      • Legal issues raised by lawyers working from home; Legal issues raised as a result of schools conducting hybrid (in-person and online) instruction
    • Student privacy in 2021 and beyond
    • Legal innovations – Examples of creativity being used to help solve clients’ issues
    • New Title IX Regulations

  • What are the proposal and speaker resume evaluation criteria?

    The Committee will evaluate proposals and speaker resumes based on the following criteria:

    • Presenter demonstrates how the session will involve audience participation for in-person and virtual attendees (discussion, Q&A, incorporating technology, small group work, etc.)
    • Presenter demonstrates creativity and innovation in both the format and the content of the session
    • Topic is of high interest and relevance to school attorneys and addresses the needs of the experienced school law practitioner or the attorney new to the practice
    • Presenter provides references for prior speaking experience. The Committee will give preference to speakers with strong references from his or her state school boards association.
    • Proposal gives a clear, concise picture of what the session will include.
    • Session objectives are clear and can be met realistically in the time allowed.
    • Presentation will provide solid, practical “how-to” information such as a sample policy or procedural check list.
    • Program is not wholly based on state law, but is national in scope.