Volunteer Your Legal Services.
If you’re an attorney who wants to use your legal expertise to give a voice to a child, you will find rewarding service through the Florida Guardian ad Litem (GAL) Program. There are more than 30,000 abused, abandoned, and neglected children under the jurisdiction of Florida’s juvenile dependency courts. Effective legal advocacy of their best interests is crucial to ensure they reach permanency quickly, get the services they need, and have a voice in court.
Complete Your Pro Bono Service Hours.
The GAL Program has a variety of ways for attorneys to volunteer their services, while also meeting the Florida Bar’s goal for 30 hours of pro bono service. You can:
- provide legal advocacy for the best interests of children with specific legal issues, such as special education, guardianship, or psychotropic medications.
- represent children with disabilities, trafficking victims, and those who live in residential treatment centers or nursing homes.
- advocate for a child as an Attorney ad Litem in a traditional attorney-client relationship, a type of advocacy needed for children with legal issues not common to dependency cases (i.e., immigration) or whose express wishes conflict with the GAL Program’s assessment of best interests.
You don’t have to do it alone.
However you choose to give a voice to Florida’s most vulnerable children, the GAL Program will support you. The Program has more than 170 attorneys who can answer questions or provide practice aids such as templates for motions and guidance on substantive law. Our Child Advocate Managers can offer information about local procedures and community resources. Pro bono attorneys also have access to free online training and the GAL Dependency Practice Manual and the Defending Best Interest Practice Guide.
Earn CLE credit.
The GAL Program offers training on legal advocacy for children in dependency court as well as the substantive issues dependent children face. To see a list of Florida Bar approved training courses, click here.
To get involved, register your interest. An attorney from the GAL Program will call you to discuss how you can be a voice for a child. The Program also welcomes law students who wish to intern with us, and those who wish to assist our attorneys. Click here to find the local program near you.
If you’d prefer to advocate for a child as a lay volunteer, click here to learn what it means to be a GAL volunteer.