H. Jeffrey Marcus
Founder & Managing Attorney
Jeff Marcus is a lifelong resident of the Western New York area. H graduated from the State University of New York at Buffalo in 1977 with a B.A. in psychology. In the early 1980s, Jeff worked with adults with developmental disabilities in a variety of settings and completed a masters degree in the Administration of Programs for the Developmentally Disabled. In 1984, while working at the Association for the Learning Disabled, Jeff started doing lay advocacy on behalf of parents of children with disabilities. Jeff attended Law School at the State University of New York at Buffalo where he graduated magna cum laude. After working for two years as a law clerk for the Appellate Division of the New York State Supreme Court, 4th Department, Jeff entered the world of private practice.
For three years, Jeff represented victims of negligence in personal injury cases. During that time, he started representing parents of children with disabilities who were being denied their rights under the special education laws. In 1995, Jeff left the personal injury firm and started his own firm devoted almost entirely to parent representation in special education matters. In 1996, Jeff joined the faculty of his alma mater and taught Special Education Law and directed the Special Education Law Clinic at the State University of New York at Buffalo Law School.
In his position as the Director of the Special Education Law Clinic, Jeff oversaw the education and training of many law students in the theoretical and practical aspects of legal advocacy in the area of special education law. Jeff and the Law Clinic provided legal representation for many hundreds of parents of children with disabilities who were involved in disputes with their school districts. Jeff provided of counsel services to private practice attorneys and community agencies in the area of special education law and information, referral, and informal assistance for parents, teachers, clinicians, community agency personnel, school district administrators, teachers and other school support personnel. The Law Clinic was the center point of a network of lay special education advocates for the Western New York area. Jeff and the Clinic collaborated with the Department of Probation in an interdisciplinary and interagency effort to address the complex problems of children who were involved in PINS diversion, Juvenile Justice and/or the mental health system.
In 2005, the Special Education Law Clinic was eliminated. Since then, Jeff has had a full time practice devoted to the representation of parents in special education matters. Jeff’s firm services parents of kids with disabilities in Western New York, New York City and across the entire New York State.
Jeff is admitted to practice law in New York State, the United States District Court in the Eastern, Western, Northern and Southern Districts, and the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals.
Kyle M. Costello
Kyle M. Costello resides in Williamsville, New York, and is native to the Western New York area. In 2002, he graduated summa cum laude from West Virginia University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science/Legal Studies. Kyle then attended the State University of New York at Buffalo School of Law. While at UB Law School, he participated in the Special Education Law Clinic led by Jeff Marcus. There he assisted children with disabilities in disputes against various school districts. He advocated on behalf of kids at Committee on Special Education meeting and worked to resolve disputes with school district personnel. Kyle also assisted in impartial hearings. In 2005, Kyle graduated cum laude from UB Law School.
Shortly after graduation, Kyle began working with Jeff Marcus in private practice advocating for kids with disabilities. He was admitted to practice law in February of 2006, and since that time, he has represented the interests of hundreds of parents and kids with disabilities. Kyle often acts as lead counsel for the firm when matters go to impartial hearing and has negotiated many settlements on behalf of his clients. Kyle teaches special education law to residents at the University at Buffalo Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Fellowship Training Program. He also frequently gives presentations to parents and service coordinators on the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.
Kyle's practice focuses solely on special education law, and assisting children with disabilities across New York State.
Buffalo Business First “Legal Elite” (2016, 2017, 2018, 2019)
Buffalo Business First “Who’s Who in Law” (2009)
Super Lawyers: Rising Stars List (2013, 2014, 2015, 2016)
Phi Beta Kappa (2002)
"The Role of a Physician's Assistant as defined by New York State Law" p. 4-5, Erie County Medical Society Bulletin (Winter 2004).
"A Physician's Duty to Disclose Communicable Diseases" p. 17, Erie County Medical Society Bulletin (Fall 2003).
Admitted to Practice:
New York State, United States District Court for the Eastern and Western District of New York.
Olga Vlasova joined the Law Offices of H. Jeffrey Marcus in 2011, during her second year of law school. Olga started with the firm as a legal assistant and now holds the position of an Associate Attorney. In the past seven years Olga has successfully advocated on behalf of countless clients at IEP meetings as well as impartial hearings. Olga’s personal experience of advocating for her developmentally disabled son has helped her to become a very effective advocate who is also well attuned to the parents’ struggles because she walks in their shoes when it comes to special education matters. Olga believes in the unlimited power of education and that all children can achieve their full potential when given the right support. Olga is very dedicated to making it a reality for her clients.
Juris Doctor, Brooklyn Law School (2013)
Master of Arts in Forensic Psychology (with honors), John Jay College of Criminal Justice (2008)
Bachelor of Arts in Psychology (summa cum laude), Hunter College (2000)
Olga Vlasova, Towards Exempting the Severely Mentally Ill from the Death Penalty, JURIST - Dateline, Apr. 30, 2012, http://jurist.org/dateline/2012/04/olga-vlasova-death-penalty.php.
Pilotti, M., Chodorow, M., & Vlasova, O. (2008). Interference Effects and the Consequences of Recognition Failures and Successes. American Journal of Psychology, 121(4), 523-549.
Erie County Bar Association
New York State Bar Association
Admitted to Practice:
New York State
United States District Court for the Eastern and Southern District of New York
Lisa M. Gibertoni moved to Buffalo from Connecticut in 2004 to attend the State University of New York at Buffalo School of Law. She graduated from Vassar College in 1998 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English. Between college and law school she worked as an administrator and instructor for The Princeton Review and then as a paralegal for a law firm specializing in asbestos-related lung injuries.
During law school, Lisa worked as an administrator for a local tutoring company providing subsidized tutoring under the No Child Left Behind Act. Following her admission to the NY bar, Lisa worked for the Erie County Aid to Indigent Prisoners Society on the family law panel for over three years. She began working as of counsel to the Law Offices of H. Jeffrey Marcus, P.C., in 2012, representing parents and students in special education matters while continuing to provide representation in family and other civil matters. Since 2017 she has concentrated her practice solely on special education law and is now an associate attorney at the firm.
Lisa is admitted to practice in New York State. She is a member of the New York State Bar Association. She also serves as a volunteer for the Vassar College Office of Admissions, providing information and local interviews to interested applicants.
Wendy M. Zimny resides in the Bronx with her two children, and is originally from East Tennessee. Wendy graduated from Boston University School of Law in 2001, and went on to earn a Masters in Criminal Justice in 2005 and a Masters in Education in 2014. She has been licensed to practice law in California since 2002, in New York since 2008, and is certified to teach Students with Disabilities in New York.
After law school Wendy worked on pro bono asylum cases in the San Fransisco Bay Area for approximately two years. After taking a few years off work to raise her young children, Wendy returned to work as an adjunct professor at Bronx Community College where she taught courses in criminal justice. Soon thereafter, she started teaching in NYC public schools. Wendy worked for five years as a Special Education Teacher at a NYC DOE school in Harlem, six months in the NYC DOE’s Impartial Hearing Representation Office, and then two more years as a Special Education Teacher in a NYC charter school, also located in Harlem. Wendy joined the Law Offices of H. Jeffrey Marcus in August 2016, and currently represents families of students with disabilities in the five boroughs of NYC and surrounding counties.
Wendy is personally and professionally familiar with the special education system in New York. Her eldest child has a dual Autism and ADHD diagnosis, and his challenges with accessing an education led her to take a break from law and pursue a career in special education. Wendy has participated in the development of countless IEPs on behalf of her son, now a Junior in high school in a NYC public school, and on behalf of her former special education students.
Of Counsel Attorney
Nora Lynch attended Yale University for undergraduate studies and had a career in film production and development in Los Angeles, CA before returning to school for her law degree. She attended Vanderbilt University Law School where she developed a passion for child and disability advocacy. After a post-graduate period at the Legal Aid Society in NYC working in the Adolescent Intervention Program, she began working for the NYC DOE as an impartial hearing representative, where she gained a tremendous amount of experience litigating cases special education cases on behalf of the City. From there, she moved to an established special education firm representing parents of children with disabilities in a wide range of cases, with a particular emphasis on tuition reimbursement. She has recently joined the law offices of H. Jeffrey Marcus in an Of Counsel capacity, and looks forward to bringing her experience in special education law and passion for working on behalf of children with disabilities to her advocacy.
Of Counsel Attorney
William (Willie) Schoellkopf is a graduate of the State University of New York at Buffalo Law School. Following his graduation from Siena College, Loudonville, N.Y., in 1972, Willie embarked on a 12-year sojourn as a professional musician, finally succumbing to the pressures of having to earn a living wage by enrolling at UB Law in 1984, and graduating cum laude in 1987. As part of his law school curriculum, Willie took classes in the legal rights of the handicapped, and was enrolled in the Special Education Law Clinic, learning the intricacies of legal advocacy for the rights of parents of children with disabilities under the special education laws, and providing supervised legal representation to clients in their disputes with their school districts.
Following graduation from law school, Willie spent two years as a confidential law clerk for Hon. John T. Curtin, United States District Judge for the Western District of New York, where he handled the research, opinion writing, and case management duties in several complex matters — including the Love Canal litigation, the desegregation of the City of Buffalo Public Schools, and racial and gender-based employment discrimination within the Buffalo Police and Fire Departments. Upon finishing his clerkship, Willie spent three years in private practice as an associate attorney in the Buffalo office of the Albany, N.Y. law firm of Whiteman, Osterman, and Hanna. He returned to federal court in 1992 as confidential law clerk to U.S. Magistrate Judge Carol E. Heckman until her retirement in 2000, followed by a short term as law clerk to U.S. Magistrate Judge William G. Bauer. In September 2001, Willie returned to Judge Curtin’s chambers, serving as his career confidential law clerk until they both retired from federal service in April 2016.
Among the wide range of experience gained through nearly 30 years of federal practice, Willie became intricately familiar with the development of the law in the area of the legal rights of parents seeking special educational services for their children with disabilities. He has carried that familiarity with him to the Law Offices of H. Jeffrey Marcus, serving of counsel since April 2016.
Willie is admitted to practice in New York State, the United States District Court for the Western District of New York, and the United States Court of Appeals, Second Circuit. He is also a member of the Buffalo Music Hall of Fame, and still manages to find the time to perform with several bands in the Buffalo area.
Of Counsel Attorney
Marcy Hagen has been practicing law since 1993. She was a law clerk for a New Jersey Superior Court Judge after graduating law school and then worked for the New Jersey Attorney General's Office, Appellate Division, for eight years. After moving to Buffalo, Marcy worked for the Erie County District Attorney's Office until her daughter was born in 2004. Her daughter, now 15 years old, has Down Syndrome. She then changed her area of practice to Special Education Law. She sits on the board of the Down Syndrome Parent Group of Western New York, and volunteers for that organization. She is also an artist, currently employed as a muralist for the Reach Academy Charter School in the city of Buffalo, New York.