OCR Associates Policy

The OCR believes that the use of associates on OCR appointments is a means of providing mentoring and training to newer attorneys and attorneys new to Pediatric Law. The effective use of associates on OCR appointments may additionally enhance the quality of representation provided on individual cases. The policy outlined below is intended to support the use of associates in a manner that achieves efficiencies, complies with the requirements of CJD 04-06, and promotes continuity in representation for children.

Summary of Policy

Case-Carrying Associates: Every case-carrying attorney will have a contract with the OCR. Contract will be between the attorney and the OCR. Associates within law firms who wish to be case-carrying must individually apply for a contract with the OCR.

  • Exception: attorneys in the staff model offices working exclusively under the staff model contract.
  • Note: The decision regarding which associates in a law firm are eligible to be case-carrying and the decision of how many pick up slots the attorneys in a law firm have are two distinct decisions. For example, there may be situations in which an attorney and his or her associate may both be eligible to be case-carrying attorneys but a firm may only have one pick up slot.

Use of Associates on Out-of-Court Tasks: The use of associates, paralegals, social work professionals who assist attorneys under an OCR contract with out-of-court tasks that are not personally assigned to the GALs under CJD 04-06 (e.g., attending staffings, conducting home visits supplemental to the ones personally required of the GALs) or the court’s orders (e.g., acting as educational surrogate) is permissible as long as the GALs’ use of the staff promotes efficiencies and enhances rather than hinders the attorney’s personal knowledge of the case and continuity of representation for children/youth. Such associates, paralegals, social work professionals do not need specific OCR approval or a contract with the OCR. They do need an individual OCRCARES user ID and must log their work separately.

Associates in Court: CJD 04-06 provides that “in exceptional circumstances, another qualified attorney who has sufficient knowledge of the issues and status of the case may substitute for some hearings, with permission of the court.” Attorneys on the OCR pickup list for a case type are qualified to substitute for such hearings. Additionally, attorneys under contract with the OCR who seek to use associates in their firm to appear in court on their cases in the limited circumstances set forth by CJD 04-06 may apply to the OCR to use an associate within their firm for this purpose. Such attorneys must identify on their application the associate the attorney intends to use and the associate’s qualifications. The OCR will notify the attorney if such associate is determined to be qualified. The attorney’s annual verification form will specifically identify the name of that associate and contain assurances by the attorney that the attorney will ensure the associate: 1) appears in court only under the limited circumstances set forth in CJD 04-06; 2) is appropriately briefed on the matters to be addressed by the court and prepared to state the child’s position on the matters before the court; 3) will continue to receive necessary training on matters relevant to the representation of children (10 hours per CLE reporting period, as required by CJD 04-06). Attorneys who wish to use associates in this capacity mid contracting cycle will fill out a Change of Status Request. The OCR will not have a separate contract with such associates.