Best Practice Guidelines for Organizational Legal Representation of Children in Abuse, Neglect, and Dependency Cases

National Association of Counsel for Children

The practice of child welfare law is complex and dramatically impacts the lives of thousands of children and families each year. Attorneys representing children must possess expertise in state and federal substantive and procedural law, trial advocacy and dispute resolution, collateral proceedings, community resources and services, family dynamics, and child maltreatment and development. It is an increasingly specialized field. CWLOs are encouraged to use this publication as a means of achieving best practices. The guidelines contained herein are just that -- guidelines.

The NACC and the drafters of this publication recognize that the practice of child welfare law varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction and that there is no "one size fits all" model. We encourage offices to work toward substantial conformity or compliance with these guidelines and also to make thoughtful decisions when departing from suggested guidelines. While acknowledging the different ways to provide organizational representation to children, these guidelines establish baselines which lead to a high functioning, comprehensive, client-centered program. The guidelines are intended to be flexible and may be adapted to local conditions.