Jeff Ruder is the founder and principal of Ruder Law. Since 2006, Jeff has focused his practice on advocating for the rights of disabled children in public schools. Jeff is also frequent speaker to professional and parent groups regarding the rights of students with disabilities.
Jeff also serves as an Allegheny County Solicitor, handling matters involving child abuse and neglect. In addition, Jeff works as special counsel for the Pittsburgh Commission on Human Relations where he represents victims of housing discrimination. Jeff also serves as special prosecutor for Pittsburgh Citizen Police Review Board. Previously, Jeff worked as a guardian ad litem for Legal Aid for Children.
Jeff is a 1993 graduate of the University of Pittsburgh and a 1996 graduate of the Dickinson School of Law.
Michelle Kline is an associate attorney at Ruder Law. Prior to joining Ruder Law, Michelle worked as a Presidential Management Fellow at the Department of Labor and in OSHA’s Office of Whistleblower Protection Program.
In 2010, Michelle earned her J.D. from the George Washington University Law School, graduating cum laude. While in law school, Michelle worked as a student attorney in the Domestic Violence Project and in the International Human Rights Law Clinic. Michelle is also a 2006 cum laude graduate of the University of Rochester.
Michelle also volunteers for WomensLaw.org, providing legal assistance and training on domestic violence issues.
Kristen Weidus is an associate attorney at Ruder Law. Prior to joining the firm, she was an associate at Tremba, Kinney, Greiner & Kerr, LLC, and served as co-counsel in the G.L. v. Ligonier Valley School District case, No. 14-1387 (3d Cir. 2015).
Kristen graduated magna cum laude from the University of the District of Columbia David A. Clarke School of Law in Washington, DC in 2012. She worked as a law student attorney in the Took Crowell Institute for At-Risk Youth, representing students with disabilities enrolled in the DC Public Schools. Kristen also served as President of the Women’s Law Society, Articles Editor for the Law Review, and President and Founder of the UDC-DCSL Disability Rights and Advocacy Society.
Kristen graduated cum laude from Hiram College in 2009. Beginning in 2000, she worked for the HELP Foundation Summer Program, an extended school year program that serves children with disabilities in Northeast Ohio.
John Valantassis is an associate attorney at Ruder Law. Prior to joining Ruder Law, John worked as the Director of Child Advocacy at The Arc of Philadelphia, where he advocated on behalf of children with disabilities in the Philadelphia region. John also worked after law school as of counsel to the Law Offices of David J. Berney and served as a Conwell Community Corp Service Fellow for the Education Law Center in Philadelphia.
John earned his J.D. from Temple University Beasley School of Law in 2012 where he graduated magna cum laude and served as a Research Editor of the Temple Law Review. John graduated from Haverford College in 2009.
Jennifer Modell is an associate attorney with Ruder Law. Prior to joining the firm, she was an associate at Caroselli, Beachler, McTiernan & Coleman where she specialized in social security and long-term disability law. She also worked at the Rhode Island Disability Law Center where she handled special education, guardianship and disability discrimination matters. In addition to disability law, Ms. Modell has practiced in the fields of criminal defense, immigration and civil rights law.
Ms. Modell graduated with honors from Northwestern University School of Law. She was the winner of the Cathy Novak scholarship for her contribution to women’s rights and the founder of a student group dedicated to that issue. Ms. Modell completed her undergraduate degree at the University of Chicago. She currently serves on the boards of the Autism Connection of Pennsylvania and Neighborhood Legal Services and provides pro bono representation in Protection from Abuse cases.
Brandi Kelly is an associate attorney at Ruder Law. Prior to joining Ruder Law, Ms. Kelly worked at Friday & Cox, LLC as a staff attorney on civil litigation and social security disability cases.
Ms. Kelly earned her Law Degree through Duquesne University in 2015. Prior to law school, Ms. Kelly received her Masters in Social Work at the University of Pittsburgh in 2010. While in law school, Ms. Kelly worked as a Behavioral Specialist Consultant and Mobile Therapist for children with behavioral difficulties and developmental delays.