I would like to find out how much my school district is paying a private lawyer to work on a particular matter. Can I use FOIA (the Freedom of Information Act) or a similar state statute for this information?

For purposes of this question, the "particular matter" is not a lawsuit exactly. It is the lawyer doing compliance work for the school district, such as attending meetings, following procedures, responding to U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights investigation questions, preparing and arguing a special education impartial hearing case, and other matters related to special education advocacy.

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    You can foia whatever you want; can't tell if they will comply. Hire an attorney: it would be a crime for us to help you.
    – user6726
    Jul 23, 2016 at 5:16
  • We can answer this question if you re-word it and give some more information, such as your jurisdiction. For example, you can ask whether you can use public records disclosure laws to learn how much money a school district is paying in legal fees to defend a particular lawsuit.
    – Mr_V
    Jul 25, 2016 at 14:03
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    I do not believe United States has any FOIA jurisdiction upon your school, it's usually a state matter.
    – cnst
    Jul 27, 2016 at 13:19
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    What state? That would help. FOIA generally refers to the Freedom of Information Act—a federal law that only applies to the federal government. Most states have similar laws that fall in the broad category of Sunshine Laws or Open Records Laws: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/…
    – Mr_V
    Jul 27, 2016 at 13:31
  • New York. Here we have FOIL but I thought this would work as a general FOIA question. Jul 27, 2016 at 17:22

2 Answers 2


You can always ask government entities for information. If you believe that you have a statutory right to the information (e.g., pursuant to FOIA-like laws) then citing that statute and following its requirements for making the request improve your chances of getting a response.

However, ultimately it's up to the agency whether, and how, it will respond to your request, whether made pursuant to a specific law or not. Some FOIA statutes provide specific avenues of appeal. And if you think the government has neglected a legal requirement you can petition the courts for redress and see (1) whether they agree with you, and (2) whether they can or will compel the government to do anything about it.


A lawyer told me how to do this: FOIA for the monthly invoices for legal services, during a specified period of time. I have done so and am now in my waiting period. If it works I will accept my answer.

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