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and clarify their role if necessary, 28 ensure that they play an attorney’s and not a reporter’s role, 29
exercise independent judgment, 30 meet with the child, 31 participate in file review and pretrial
activities, 32 participate in hearings in a lawyer’s role, 33 participate in appeals, 34 seek enforcement
of the court’s orders, 35 and inform the client when the representation ends. 36
Apart from the aforementioned overlaps, the roles of the Child’s Attorney and the Best Interests
Attorney deviate. The Child’s Attorney is generally required to advocate for the result sought by
the client, so long as the client, in the lawyer’s judgment, is capable of making adequate
decisions. 37 The Child’s Attorney functions as legal counsel with the same ethical obligations
28 See id. at § III.A (“If the appointed lawyer considers part of the appointment order confusing or incompatible with
his or her ethical duties, the lawyer should ( 1) decline the appointment, or ( 2) inform the court of the conflict and
ask the court to clarify or change the terms of the order, or ( 3) both.”).
29 ABA Standard, supra note 3, at §III.B (“A lawyer appointed as a Child’s Attorney or a Best Interests Attorney
should not play any other role in the case, and should not testify, file a report, or make recommendations.”).
30 See id. at § III.C (“The lawyer has the right and responsibility to exercise independent professional judgment in
carrying out the duties assigned by the court, and to participate in the case as fully and freely as a lawyer for a
31 See id. at § III.E (“The lawyer should meet with the child, adapting all communications to the child’s age, level of
education, cognitive development, cultural background and degree of language acquisition, using an interpreter if
necessary. The lawyer should inform the child about the court system, the proceedings, and the lawyer’s
responsibilities. The lawyer should elicit and assess the child’s views.”).
32 See id. at § III.D (Initial tasks include reviewing the file, informing the parties and/or counsel of appointment, and
notifying that as counsel he or she should receive notice of pleadings, discovery, hearings, and major changes of
circumstances); id. at § III.F (Pretrial responsibilities include, among other things: independent investigation and
discovery; theory and strategy development; participating in meetings, negotiations, depositions, hearings and trials;
and participating in motion practice.).
33 Id. at § III.G (“The lawyer should participate actively in all hearings and conferences with the court on issues
within the scope of the appointment. . . “).
34 ABA Standard, supra note 3, at III.H (“If appeals on behalf of the child are allowed by state law, and if it has been
decided [that an appeal is necessary], the lawyer should take all steps necessary to perfect the appeal and seek
appropriate temporary orders or extraordinary writs necessary to protect the interests of the child during the
pendency of the appeal. . . . The lawyer should participate in any appeal filed by another party, concerning issues
relevant to the child and within the scope of the appointment, unless discharged. . . When the appeals court’s
decision is received, the lawyer should explain it to the child.”).
35 Id. at § III.I (”The lawyer should monitor the implementation of the court’s orders and address any non-compliance.”).
36 Id. at § III.J (“When the representation ends, the lawyer should inform the child in a developmentally appropriate
37 Id. at § IV.C (“The Child’s Attorney should abide by the client’s decisions about the objectives of the
representation with respect to each issue on which the child is competent to direct the lawyer, and does so. The
Child’s Attorney should pursue the child’s expressed objectives, unless the child requests otherwise, and follow the
child’s direction, throughout the case.”).