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Standards of Practice
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Child Law Standards of Practice

The lack of guidelines for attorneys representing children in child protection proceedings has often been cited as a major cause of substandard and ineffective legal representation of children. Unlike more traditional areas of legal practice, where the model of representation and the lawyer code of conduct are essentially uniform from state to state, child law practice has no commonly accepted model or code, and many states provide inadequate guidance for attorneys doing this work. This is the case in part because child law practice is a unique and relatively recent development, and because the evolution of child law has occurred on a state-by-state basis.

 

Below, you’ll find the ABA Model Act for Child Representation endorsed by NACC.  You’ll also find ABA Standards of Practice for Lawyers Who Represent Children in Abuse and Neglect Cases (NACC Revised Version), ABA Standards of Practice for Attorneys Representing Parents in Abuse and Neglect Cases, and ABA Standards of Practice for Lawyers Representing Child Welfare Agencies.  In 2001, NACC adopted Recommendations for Representation of Children in Abuse and Neglect Cases, which is currently under review.  Since that time, the National Quality Improvement Center for Children's Representation developed the QIC-ChildRep Best Practice Model of Children's Legal representation, followed by the American Bar Association adopted the ABA Model Act for Child Representation, now adopted by NACC.

 

NACC Recommends States Adopt the ABA Model Act for Child Representation

The NACC endorses and recommends states adopt the Model Act Governing the Representation of Children in Abuse, Neglect, and Dependency Proceedings adopted by the American Bar Association in 2011.  Many NACC members and leaders were actively involved in the development and adoption of the Model Act.  Here is a summary of the Model Act's provisions, which include providing every child a lawyer bound by the rules of professional conduct, including the duties of confidentiality and zealous advocacy.


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NACC Revised ABA Standards for Lawyers Who Represent Children in Abuse and Neglect Cases

The NACC believes that the American Bar Association Standards of Practice for Lawyers Who Represent Children in Abuse and Neglect Cases represents a significant advancement in the practice of law for children. However, we also believe that such standards should provide an alternate representation scheme in certain circumstances, particularly where very young children are concerned. We have therefore produced an edited version of the original ABA document in order to address these concerns.


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ABA Standards for Attorneys Representing Parents in Abuse and Neglect Cases

Published by the American Bar Association, these standards promote both quality representation and uniformity of practice for attorneys representing parents in child abuse and neglect cases. Written with the help of practicing parents’ attorneys and child welfare professionals from jurisdictions across the country, the standards address the difficulties of day-to-day practice, but also strive to raise the quality of representation for parents.


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ABA Standards of Practice for Lawyers Representing Child Welfare Agencies

These standards were developed to improve the quality of child welfare agency representation and uniformity of practice throughout the country, but also to be realistically attainable by individual jurisdictions. Written with the help of practicing agency attorneys and child welfare professionals from various jurisdictions, the standards address the difficulties of day-to-day practice while striving to raise the overall quality of representation.


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