Improving Legal Representation for All Parties


Raising the bar on attorney performance assists the courts with their performance by providing judges with better information on which to base decisions.  Clients get better representation, which protects due process rights.  Stakeholder surveys and CIP advisory members have consistently asked for CIP funding to be directed toward supporting and improving the attorney bar. 

  • Child Welfare Legal Specialist (CWLS) Incentives and Grants:  CWLS attorneys are specially-trained in issues and best practices involved in child welfare cases.  The certification is provided by the National Association of Counsel for Children, and involves passing a written examination much like the bar exam.  J4C provides grants to applicants to defray the cost of study for and obtaining the certification, and hosts meetings for Georgia CWLS attorneys.  CWLS attorneys are used by J4C to lead a variety of trainings and other projects.  In 2015 there were 45 CWLS attorneys in Georgia, with over 30 attorneys slated to take the examination.

  • Trial Skills Training: Effective trial skills are important both for ensuring that the rights of parties are protected in Juvenile Court proceedings, as well as in preventing errors that might delay permanency.  J4C organizes trial skills trainings available to attorneys across the state.

  • Georgia Association of Counsel for Children: Georgia’s organization for child welfare attorneys provides trainings and conferences to enhance the breadth of knowledge of attorneys practicing in Juvenile Courts.  J4C provides a funding grant to GACC, as well as scholarships to help attorneys defray the costs of conference attendance.

  • Child Welfare Legal Academy (CWLA):  In partnership with the Barton Center at Emory Law School, J4C provides seminars which address issues in child welfare policy and practice.  These seminars are provided to a larger audience via live-stream, and are archived for future access.

  • Peer Review Program: In partnership with the Office of the Child Advocate, J4C provides data analysis which identifies jurisdictions with low permanency outcomes, and helps fund the Peer Review Program, which places attorneys with child-welfare expertise in those jurisdictions as court observers.  The peer reviewers concentrate especially upon the performance of attorneys representing children, and upon guardians’ ad litem, providing information which is put into a final report and presented to each court observed.

  • Parent Attorney Advocacy Committee: This organization, funded by J4C CIP dollars, provides enhanced training for attorneys representing parents in Juvenile Court proceedings.  An annual conference has been held for the past four years, with J4C scholarships helping more attorneys to attend.

  • Child Welfare Seminar: Twice a year, J4C, in conjunction with the Institute of Continuing Legal Education, provides a day-long training on basic aspects of practice for attorneys in Juvenile Court. 

Relevant Links:

  1. Representation for Children and Parents in Dependency Proceedings, (2005), at 4. Pew Commission.
  2. Discussion in October 2006 - Child As a Party to their Deprivation Case.