Attorneys in Florida have an excellent opportunity to further the legal profession's devotion to public service and the public good while becoming an advocate for a child in court. When you volunteer for us, you become a voice for a child and give back to the community.
During her swearing in as Chief Justice of the Florida Supreme Court (2008–2010), Justice Peggy Ann Quince called for attorneys in Florida to volunteer.
"We have hundreds of children who age out of foster care every year but are they really ready to take their place as good and productive citizens in the state of Florida," she asked. "I believe with our help, with the help of the lawyers of this state, we can make them those kind of citizens."
How You Can Help
There are three specific options for attorneys desiring to work with our program. Attorneys can:
represent the best interests of children as a guardian ad litem with support from a staff case coordinator and program attorney;
utilize their area of expertise to assist the Second Judicial Circuit Guardian ad Litem Program in advocating for the child's needs as well as matters in probate, special education, guardianship, immigration, appeals and administrative law; or
represent the child in an attorney-client relationship as an attorney ad litem.
How You Will Benefit
You will find volunteering with our program to be an extremely rewarding experience. For as few as four to six hours per month, you can truly make a difference in a child's life. Newer attorneys will also gain valuable experience by actively participating in and assisting with hearings, trials and appeals.
After providing guardian ad litem representation and completing the training requirement, volunteering attorneys may:
receive eight (8) credit hours of continuing legal education (CLE), including one (1) credit hour of legal ethics; and
fulfill the Florida Bar's pro bono public service requirement (Rule 4-6.1) of at least twenty pro bono hours reported annually.
Members in good standing with the Florida Bar, download and complete the application, sign it and send it to the Second Judicial Circuit Guardian ad Litem Program by mail, fax or email. You will be contacted shortly to arrange a brief screening interview.
The First Judicial Circuit Guardian ad Litem Program has shared with us their pre-service training videos, each of which is also accompanied by a slide deck. In addition, quizzes for each section are included for review and self-evaluation.
- Advocacy, Professionalism and Confidentiality Slide Deck 1
- Field Visits and Documentation Slide Deck 2
- Information Gathering and Report Writing Slide Deck 3
- Child Abuse and Neglect Slide Deck 4
- Foster Care Introduction to Foster Parents Slide Deck 5
- Substance Abuse and Child Welfare Slide Deck 6
- Domestic Violence and Its Effects on Children Slide Deck 7
- Psychotropic Medications Slide Deck 8
- Educational Advocacy Tips for GAL Volunteers Slide Deck 9
- Family Centered Practice A Slide Deck 10
- Family Centered Practice B Slide Deck 11
- Family Centered Practice C Slide Deck 12
- Video Playlist
- Download Quizzes
You can also watch Guardian ad Litem Pro Bono and Beyond, a free continuing education video series produced in partnership with Florida's Center for Child Welfare featuring lectures by experts. The training provides advocates with tools to effectively advocate for children in the dependency system.
Words From a Colleague
"Prior to volunteering as a pro bono guardian ad litem attorney, my legal experience had been primarily confined to representing large corporations in complex business transactions. The prospect of having a real live human being for a client made me more than a little nervous and I wondered if I would actually be able to do anything helpful in this completely new area.
However, after being introduced to [the] child, who seemed nearly as nervous as I was, I quickly realized that there is much I can do for her. Whether it be visiting with her at her home to filing a motion request court approval so she can attend a church sponsored Christmas trip, being a volunteer guardian ad litem has been one of the most rewarding experience I have had in my twenty years of practicing law."— Carol Lee Hinds, Esq. (2005)