The last forty years have seen a tremendous maturation of the field of representation of children in the child welfare system. Since 1974 the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Acta federal law, required the appointment of an undefined “guardian ad litem,” not necessarily an attorney, to represent children in child welfare proceedings. When I began practice in 1977, in a state that provided attorneys for all children in child welfare cases, the attorneys who took on such representation had no particular expertise or training, no clear guidance on what their role was, and no institutional support for expert resources. Not surprisingly, this type of work was often a stop-gap, where young lawyers could gain some trial experience in “kiddie court” for two or three years until they were able to move on to more “important” and lucrative work. Young lawyers were expected to represent children pro bono or for very little pay.
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