Richard M. Peterson, LL.M.
Director of the Special Education Clinic and Assistant Professor of Law
Office: School of Law (SOL)
Following admission to the California State Bar in 1979 Professor Peterson spent twenty years practicing law as a trial attorney where he frequently served the community as a mediator, arbitrator, and legal representative of developmentally disabled persons victimized by criminal acts or other civil wrongdoings.
Professor Peterson now focuses his energies on the Special Education Advocacy Clinic where he directs law students providing advocacy and training to parents of children with developmental disabilities who are regional center consumers. He teaches Special Education Law, Disability Law, and Dispute Resolution in Education.
Professor Peterson has served as an educational consultant conducting workshops in anger management and conflict resolution curriculum for K-12 teachers, administrators, counselors, psychologists, and probation officers in public, private and alternative schools in New York, Delaware, Virginia, Florida, Colorado, Missouri, and California, and provided monthly teacher development workshops on these subjects for the Compton Unified School District during the 2001-02 school year. Professor Peterson has more than thirty years experience working with adolescents and teenagers in a variety of capacities including service as a director of youth organizations for his church, athletic coach, adult leader for various troops of the Boy Scouts of America, and has taught numerous religious classes.
He is a passionate advocate for persons with disabilities having served nearly five years as a member of the Board of Directors of the Regional Center of Orange County, three years as president, and is a frequent speaker to parent organizations, educators, psychologists and related service providers on topics including special education law, dispute resolution, collaborative negotiation, and problem solving. He was the recipient of the E. Kurt Yeager Servant Leadership Award for outstanding service to people with developmental disabilities at the RCOC Spotlight Awards in 2002. In 2006-07 he received the Outstanding Contributor award from Independently Merging Parent Associations of California Together for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Children (IMPACT), and a Certificate of Special Congressional Recognition from the U.S. Congress for outstanding and invaluable service to the community in 2006. He currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Down Syndrome Association of Orange County (DSAOC), the professional advisory board of the Epilepsy Alliance of Orange County, and on the board of directors of La'a Kea Foundation, located in Maui, Hawaii, a non-profit organization planning the development of real estate, occupational programs, and living options for persons with developmental disabilities.