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The role of the child's attorney is unique in American jurisprudence and not yet clearly defined by law or tradition. There is a growing consensus, however, that children in dependency cases should have lawyers who are as active and as involved in their cases as are lawyers for any other party in any other litigation. Yet there continues to be confusion and debate over the role and duties of the lawyer, particularly as to what voice the child should have in determining the direction and goals of the litigation. Policy makers have differed as to whether the child's lawyer should represent the best interests of the child as determined by the lawyer or the expressed wishes of the child. The two competing views, the "best interests" model or the "client directed" model, are not yet resolved in American law.


Reproduced with permission. Copyright 2010 National Association of Counsel for Children, all rights reserved. Originally published as Duquette, Donald N. and Anne M. Haralambie. "Representing Children and Youth." In Child Welfare Law and Practice: Representing Children, Parents, and State Agencies in Abuse, Neglect, and Dependency Cases, edited by Donald N. Duquette and Anne M. Haralambie, 617-640. 2nd ed. Denver, CO: Bradford Publishing, 2010