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Thursday, November 7 • 2:15pm - 3:45pm
The Right to Counsel in Adult Guardianship Cases: Ensuring the Least Restrictive Alternative

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Proceedings to establish a guardianship can strip an adult of the most basic fundamental rights and freedoms: they can affect where adults live, what medications they are required to take, whether they can marry or vote, what money they can spend, who they can see, and so on. While most states guarantee that people facing a guardianship are entitled to an appointed attorney, not all do so, and many of the states that do guarantee representation specify that the attorney does not represent the client’s wishes but rather what the attorney thinks are the client’s best interests. But the recent re-release of the Uniform Guardianship Act has stimulated interest in the right to counsel issue all over the country. This panel will survey the status of the right to counsel in guardianship cases across the country, including past litigation on the subject, and will provide an overview of guardianship proceedings and the move toward less restrictive alternatives, such as supported decision-making. It will then discuss why counsel is so essential in these proceedings, what the proper role is for attorneys, whether the petitioner seeking to establish the guardianship should also be appointed counsel, and other tricky questions. Time permitting, the panel will also look at the general issue of appointment of counsel for litigants with disabilities in other types of civil cases.


Natalie M. Chin

Co-Director, Disability and Aging Justice Clinic, City University of New York School of Law
Natalie Chin is an associate professor of law at the City University of New York and co-director of the Disability and Aging Justice Clinic (DAJC). The DAJC represents low-income New Yorkers in a range of issues including prisoners’ rights, securing due process protections in areas... Read More →
avatar for Nick Parker

Nick Parker

Project Director, Indianapolis MLP, Indiana Legal Services
Nick Parker is the Project Director for the Indianapolis Medical-Legal Partnership through Indiana Legal Services. His team works with health networks and providers to address client needs that affect the social determinants of health. Nick was a staff attorney with the MLP group... Read More →
avatar for John Pollock

John Pollock

Coordinator, National Coalition for a Civil Right to Counsel
John Pollock is a Staff Attorney for the Public Justice Center who has served since 2009 as the Coordinator of the National Coalition for the Civil Right to Counsel (NCCRC).  The NCCRC works in 41 states to establish the right to counsel for low-income individuals in civil cases... Read More →
avatar for Shira Wakschlag

Shira Wakschlag

Legal Director, The Arc of the United States
Shira Wakschlag is the legal director of The Arc, a national nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting and protecting the civil and human rights of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Shira is on the board of the Disability Rights Bar Association and past... Read More →

Thursday November 7, 2019 2:15pm - 3:45pm EST
LaSalle B 5th Floor