Julie J. Weatherly, Esq. is the Founder of RISE, Inc. located in Mobile, Alabama and has been working with school agencies in the area of special education since 1986. RISE is a full-service legal and consulting business designed to assist educational agencies in the avoidance and resolution of special education legal disputes arising under the IDEA, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the ADA and other applicable laws. Julie is a graduate of Presbyterian College and the University of Georgia School of Law. She is a member of the State Bars of Alabama and Georgia and provides consultative and/or legal services to school agencies primarily in Alabama, Florida and Georgia, as well as on a national basis.
In June of 1996, Julie appeared with Leslie Stahl on CBS news program “60 Minutes” to discuss the cost of meeting the legal requirements of the IDEA. She has been a member of the faculty for many national and state legal institutes and is a frequent speaker at special education law conferences. Julie has developed a number of videotape training series on special education law and has been published nationally as a part of her trainings, workshops and seminars. In 1998, Julie was honored by Georgia’s Council for Exceptional Children (CEC) as Georgia’s Individual who had Contributed Most to Students with Disabilities, and in April 2012, Julie received the National Council of Administrators of Special Education (CASE) Award for Outstanding Service.
Leslie A. Allen, Esq. is a Partner in the Birmingham, Alabama office of RISE, where she represents and advises public school districts and other education agencies on special education law matters. Leslie is a member of the State Bars of Alabama and Georgia and is admitted to practice in state and federal courts in both states, as well as before the United States Supreme Court. With the focus of her practice exclusively on special education law, she also has more than 20 years of broad civil litigation experience, including in the areas of employment, healthcare, general liability insurance, general commercial and complex business law. Just prior to joining RISE, Leslie practiced law with the Birmingham firm of Christian & Small, after moving from Atlanta, Georgia where she had practiced law since 1995. While in Atlanta, she was formerly a law partner with founding RISE Partner Julie J. Weatherly, when they were both members of another law firm also devoted exclusively to special education law. In 2021, Leslie was selected to the Mid-South Super Lawyers list for professional achievements in Schools & Education Law. For more information regarding this honor, see the official announcement here or visit SuperLawyers.com.
Leslie is a Birmingham native and completed her undergraduate work at the University of Alabama, where she graduated summa cum laude. She then graduated cum laude from the Georgetown University Law Center in Washington, D.C.
David “Butch” C. Sargentjoined RISE as an Associate on June 1, 2022. Prior to college, Butch worked as a school bus driver and a substitute teacher, which was when he first developed a passion for working with students with disabilities. Before attending law school, Butch earned his Bachelor of Science in Collaborative Education in 1991 from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. As his teaching career began, Butch also worked on and earned a Master’s degree in the area of educating students with mild learning disabilities. In 2005, Butch earned his law degree from the Birmingham School of Law and became a member of the Alabama State Bar.
In 2007, Butch went to work with the Alabama Education Association as its UniServ Director in Northwest Alabama, where he represented AEA members. In 2013, Butch was hired to serve as an Assistant Principal with the Walker County School System in Alabama and then became its Special Education Coordinator with added Human Resource Management duties until 2018. From 2018 through 2022, Butch served as Director of Operations for the Jasper City School District where he was responsible for Special Education and Human Resource issues, as well as in-house legal matters.
Butch retired from his service in public education with more than 35 years in the retirement system as a teacher, administrator, and champion of students with special needs in order to join RISE and work with Julie and Leslie. Butch is happily married to the former Tammy D. Burttram, and they have two beautiful children, Owen and Olivia. Tammy is also a retired special education teacher.