• June 2021
  • Vol. 22, No. 6

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Interview Discusses How Holistic Legal Representation Can Support Reunification

An article in Rise Magazine features a Q&A with Martin Guggenheim, professor of clinical law at New York University Law School, about a study that compared outcomes between two types of legal representation: a panel lawyer and an interdisciplinary team that would offer a holistic approach to representation. The interdisciplinary team includes a lawyer, a social worker, and a parent advocate who would work closely with the family throughout their case.

The study found that families with parents who had been assigned a team were able to safely reunify with their children 43 percent more often in the first year and 25 percent more often in the second year than families with parents assigned a panel lawyer. The study also found it did not take long for the effect of holistic representation to show. Seventeen percent more children whose families had interdisciplinary teams were reunified within a month compared with children with panel lawyers, and 27 percent more reunified within 6 months. There was no difference in the risk of harm or reentry for these children compared to those who had a panel lawyer. Guggenheim stated that this proves there are many cases where children had no need to be in care for that long or even be put in out-of-home care in the first place. The study also found that New York City, where the study was based, could save $40 million a year in foster care costs by implementing interdisciplinary legal representation for parents.

Read the article, "How Holistic Legal Representation Supports Reunification," for the full Q&A.

 

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