Theresa M. Varnet is a Special Needs Attorney in the firm's Trust & Estate department. She is active in many special needs organizations, including the Special Needs Law Committee of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, of which she is co-chair. Ms. Varnet is a former certified teacher and a former licensed social worker. Her practice focuses upon Special Needs Planning for families and individuals with special needs of all kinds.
Ms. Varnet received her Bachelor's degree from the University of Massachusetts, and her master's in social work from the University of Connecticut. She earned her law degree from DePaul University and is admitted to practice in Massachusetts. She has been an advocate for persons with disabilities for more than 40 years. In addition to being a lawyer, she is a former certified teacher and a former licensed social worker. She is the parent of a disabled adult daughter. Her experience includes extensive work in the area of in-service training with families, special educators, social workers and other professionals.
Ms. Varnet has served as Social Services Director in a residential school for children with multiple disabilities, Coordinator for a Special Education Cooperative, and as a Citizen Advocacy/Disability Rights Coordinator. She was formerly a founding partner in the law firm of Spain, Spain & Varnet, P.C. in Chicago, IL.
Education & Certifications
- DePaul University, J.D.
- University of Massachusetts
- University of Connecticut, Master’s Degree in Social Work
- Certified Teacher, (retired)
- Licensed Social Worker, (retired)
Ms. Varnet is an active volunteer in the national, state, and local chapters of The Arc. She is also co-chair of the Special Needs Law Committee of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA), a frequent presenter for Academy of Special Needs Planners seminars and webinars and is a member of AMI, and The Autism Society. Ms. Varnet is a past member of the Developmental Disabilities Council in Massachusetts and Kentucky, and of the Governor's Advisory Panel on Special Education in Kentucky.
For her work in the special needs field, Ms. Varnet has been recognized both locally and nationally. She serves as co-chair of the Special Needs Law Section of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA). She has presented at the national conferences of TASH, American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, The Arc, National Association for Down Syndrome, Tuberous Sclerosis Alliance, Williams Syndrome, NAELA, Academy of Special Needs Planners, TX, IL and HI Bar Associations and the American Bar Association. She has appeared in the Kiplinger Retirement Report, New York Times, Chicago Tribune, AARP Bulletin, Exceptional Parent magazine, and on the National Public Radio program All Things Considered. While living in the Sultanate of Oman, Ms. Varnet assisted the Omani Ministry of Social Affairs in developing the first preschool program for children with handicapping conditions. She is the co-author of the book 'Home Control and Ownership through Trust and Estate Planning".
Significant Representation and Achievements
- Co-chair of the Special Needs Law Committee of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA)
- Presented at the national conferences of TASH, American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, and The Arc
- Appeared in the Kiplinger Retirement Report, New York Times, Chicago Tribune, AARP Bulletin, Exceptional Parent magazine, and on the National Public Radio program All Things Considered