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Certification of Child Welfare Attorneys: The Next Step in Building a Profession Dedicated to Justice for Children

NCJ Number
Children's Legal Rights Journal Volume: 23 Issue: 1 Dated: Spring 2003 Pages: 53-61
Donald N. Duquette; Marvin Ventrell
Date Published
9 pages
This article explores the new pilot program to certify lawyers as experts in child welfare law.
Although the certification of lawyers exists in other areas of law, no certification program was available to certify lawyers in child welfare law before the National Association of Counsel for Children (NACC) recently began their pilot certification program. In Part 1 of the article, discusses the importance of finding responsible and knowledgeable representation for children, their parents, and the child protection agency. Dissatisfaction concerning lawyers who represent children is a widespread problem that needs to be immediately combated. Part 2 turns to a discussion of the American Bar Association’s (ABA) criteria for accrediting a lawyer organization to certify lawyers as specialists in certain fields. The goals and objectives of the NACC Certification program are outlined and analyzed in light of the ABA criteria. Part 3 takes up the topic of incentives to encourage lawyers to pursue certification as a specialist in child welfare law; incentives that the child welfare system itself might have to offer to encourage specialization in this field. Part 4 and part 5 outline the skills and knowledge required by NACC criteria for a specialization in child welfare law. The NACC Child Welfare Law and Practice Manual is briefly described; the manual serves as a self-study guide for lawyers and as a guide for the development of training programs to prepare applicants for certification. Part 6 and part 7 describe the expected timeline for pilot studies and for piloting the certification process. In conclusion, the authors speculate the certification process will be successful because it is supported by the Federal Government and many child welfare and law organizations. 42 Endnotes