Overview

Function of the Attorney for the Child
§ 7.2 of the Rules of the Chief Judge

(a) As used in this part, "attorney for the child" means a law guardian appointed by the family court pursuant to section 249 of the Family Court Act, or by the supreme court or a surrogate's court in a proceeding over which the family court might have exercised jurisdiction had such action or proceeding been commenced in family court or referred thereto.

(b) The attorney for the child is subject to the ethical requirements applicable to all lawyers, including but not limited to constraints on: ex parte communication; disclosure of client confidences and attorney work product; conflicts of interest; and becoming a witness in the litigation.

(c) In juvenile delinquency and person in need of supervision proceedings, where the child is the respondent, the attorney for the child must zealously defend the child.

(d) In other types of proceedings, where the child is the subject, the attorney for the child must zealously advocate the child's position.

(1) In ascertaining the child's position, the attorney for the child must consult with and advise the child to the extent of and in a manner consistent with the child's capacities, and have a thorough knowledge of the child's circumstances.

(2) If the child is capable of knowing, voluntary and considered judgment, the attorney for the child should be directed by the wishes of the child, even if the attorney for the child believes that what the child wants is not in the child's best interests. The attorney should explain fully the options available to the child, and may recommend to the child a course of action that in the attorney's view would best promote the child's interests.

(3) When the attorney for the child is convinced either that the child lacks the capacity for knowing, voluntary and considered judgment, or that following the child's wishes is likely to result in a substantial risk of imminent, serious harm to the child, the attorney for the child would be justified in advocating a position that is contrary to the child's wishes. In these circumstances, the attorney for the child must inform the court of the child's articulated wishes if the child wants the attorney to do so, notwithstanding the attorney's position.

Summary of Responsibilities:

While the activities of the attorney for the child will vary with the circumstances of each client and proceeding, in general those activities will include, but not be limited to, the following:

  1. Commence representation of the child promptly upon being notified of the appointment;
  2. Contact, interview and provide initial services to the child at the earliest practical opportunity, and prior to the first court appearance when feasible;
  3. Consult with and advise the child regularly concerning the course of the proceeding, maintain contact with the child so as to be aware of and respond to the child's concerns and significant changes in the child’s circumstances, and remain accessible to the child;
  4. Conduct a full factual investigation and become familiar with all information and documents relevant to representation of the child. To that end, the lawyer for the child shall retain and consult with all experts necessary to assist in the representation of the child.
  5. Evaluate the legal remedies and services available to the child and pursue appropriate strategies for achieving case objectives;
  6. Appear at and participate actively in proceedings pertaining to the child;
  7. Remain accessible to the child and other appropriate individuals and agencies to monitor implementation of the dispositional and permanency orders, and seek intervention of the court to assure compliance with those orders or otherwise protect the interests of the child, while those orders are in effect; and
  8. Evaluate and pursue appellate remedies available to the child, including the expedited relief provided by statute, and participate actively in any appellate litigation pertaining to the child that is initiated by another party, unless the Appellate Division grants the application of the attorney for the child for appointment of a different attorney to represent the child on appeal.

Requirements

An attorney is eligible for designation as a member of the AFC panel of a county in the Fourth Department when the attorney:

Is an Attorney in Good Standing

You must be a member in good standing of the Bar of the State of New York and in any other jurisdiction in which you are admitted to the practice of law.

Has the Requisite Experience

You must have obtained experience in the representation of children by substantial participation, either as counsel of record or as co-counsel, in:

Child support hearings cannot be used to satisfy this requirement.

Does Not Have full-time Governmental Employment

You may not be employed full-time by any governmental agency without the express written permission of the employer, Family Court, and the Attorneys for Children Program.

Has Completed the AFC Program's Introductory Training


Apply For Introductory Training

Because there are many more applicants than seats for the seminar, not everyone who applies will be able to attend. Selections will be made on the basis of factors such as geographic location, Family Court experience, and “special” skills, e.g., fluency in a foreign language. We cannot seat applicants who have not completed the experience requirement set forth above.

Prior to attending the live seminar you must view and submit viewing affirmations and evaluation forms for five mandatory webinars. There will be no exceptions.

Attend the Live Seminar or Webinar

The Fourth Department Attorneys for Children Program collaborates with the Third Department Attorneys for Children Program to offer the seminar twice annually in the spring (in Rochester) and the fall (in Albany).

Space is limited. Your application must be received prior to the deadline listed below.

Introduction to Effective Representation of Children
Mon Oct 17 2022 Attend Online

OPEN until Mon Aug 15  7 Credit Hour(s)

Complete the Mandatory Videos on Demand

When you are accepted to attend the live seminar you will be given access to the videos.

You must view all five mandatory webinars and submit affirmations and evaluations for each, in addition to attending the live seminar, to be eligible for designation to a county panel. Additional, optional, webinars are available to you as a prospective AFC which you should find useful to your practice.

The live seminar will include training on child welfare and juvenile delinquency proceedings.

Representing Children in Cases Involving Domestic Violence (57 mins.)
Presented by Prof. Melissa L. Breger on Thu Oct 11 2018 in Latham

 1 Credit Hour(s)  Domestic Violence

Role of the AFC and Ethical Considerations (30 mins.)
Presented by Katie E. Woodruff, Esq., Juvenile Justice Coordinator, Legal Aid Society of Rochester on Thu Apr 04 2019 in Rochester

 0.5 Credit Hour(s)  Ethics

Custody and Visitation and Related Ethical Issues (75 mins.)
Presented by Michele A. Brown, Esq., Chief Attorney for the Child, Children's Legal Center, Buffalo on Fri Apr 05 2019 in Rochester

 1.5 Credit Hour(s)  Custody

Interviewing and Child Development (51 mins.)
Presented by Christopher Brechtel, Esq., Attorney for the Child, Children's Legal Center, Buffalo on Fri Apr 05 2019 in Rochester

 1 Credit Hour(s)  Interviewing Children

Evidence for Attorneys for Children (75 mins.)
Presented by Barbara King, Esq., Partner, Tully Rinckey, PLLC Albany, NY on Thu May 16 2019 in Utica

 1.5 Credit Hour(s)  Evidence

The Juvenile Justice System and Pre-Trial Representation (59 mins.)
Presented by Gary Solomon, Esq., Director of Legal Support, The Legal Aid Society, Juvenile Rights Practice, New York City on Thu Apr 04 2019 in Rochester

 1 Credit Hour(s)  JD

JD Representation at Fact Finding and Subsequent Proceedings (59 mins.)
Presented by Gary Solomon, Esq., Director of Legal Support, The Legal Aid Society, Juvenile Rights Practice, New York City on Thu Apr 04 2019 in Rochester

 1 Credit Hour(s)  JD

Child Welfare Proceedings Representation at Fact Finding (80 mins.)
Presented by Margaret A. Burt, Esq., attorney in private practice specializing in child welfare matters, Rochester on Fri Apr 05 2019 in Rochester

 1.5 Credit Hour(s)  Child Welfare

Additional Materials



Panel Designation

At the seminar, you will receive an affirmation and an "orientation packet." You will complete an affirmation for the county panel to which you would like to be designated (maximum two counties) and submit the affirmation to the AFC Program Office.

The office will submit the completed affirmation and the application to the appropriate Family Court judge for consideration.

Upon receipt of the Judge’s approval, the Appellate Division Clerk’s Office will enter an order placing you on the panel. A copy of the order will be sent to you and to the clerks of Family Court, Supreme Court and Surrogates Court in the appropriate county.

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