New York State Bar Association

Annual Meeting

January 26-31, 2009

New York City




Committee on Children and the Law


The Robert J. Schack Memorial Program




Challenges for Law Guardians:

The Attorney for the Child in the New Era


New York Marriott Marquis

1535 Broadway, New York City


9:00 a.m.—-12:10 p.m.

(3.5 MCLE Credits)



Majestic Complex (6th Floor)





Under New York’s MCLE rules, this program has been approved for all attorneys including those newly admitted for a total of 3.5 credit hours, 2.0 in the area of professional practice and 1.5 ethics credit.

Discounts and Scholarships: New York State Bar Association members may apply for a discount or scholarship to attend this program, based on financial hardship. This discount applies to the educational portion of the program only. Under that policy, any member of the Association who has a genuine basis of financial hardship can receive a discount or scholarship, depending on the circumstances. To apply for a discount or scholarship, please send your request in writing to the New York State Bar Association, Attn: Catheryn Teeter, One Elk Street, Albany, New York 12207 or via e-mail

See links at bottom of page for FAQ’s, registration and other information about attending this program.


Challenges for Law Guardians:
The Attorney for the Child in the New Era


The role of the attorney for the child has changed greatly. The new model is based on the advocacy function of an attorney for an adult. Functions such as acting as an investigative arm of the court and submitting “law guardian reports” have been banished, and yet the nature of children as dependent and developing human beings, which underlay the older practices, cannot be ignored. This program’s materials will comprehensively cover the role of the attorney for the child. The speakers will cover a range of the most challenging aspects of the newly defined role of the attorney for the child, and a panel discussion will analyze and solve an assortment of representational problems facing the attorney.

9:00 – 9:05 Introduction

George E. Reed, Jr., Esq.

9:05 – 9:55 An In-Depth Look at the Role of the Attorney for the Child

A discussion of recent developments in New York law and practice that require the child’s attorney to advocate for the wishes of children who have decision-making capacity; permit the attorney to make decisions on behalf of children who lack such capacity or children who are at risk of serious harm; require the attorney to provide intensive counseling designed to assist children in making sound decisions; preclude judges from treating the child’s attorney as an investigative arm of the court or as a fact witness; and bar attorneys from communicating with a represented child.

Gary S. Solomon, Esq. (Keynote presentation)

9:55 – 10:55 Panel Presentations on Selected Topics

Moderator: Honorable Jeffrey S. Sunshine

Attorneys for the Child: Oversight, Supervision, Court Rules and Caselaw

John E. Carter, Jr., Esq.

The New Era in Actual Practice: Has the Tiger Really Changed Its Stripes?

Honorable Edwina G. Richardson-Mendelson and Crystal L. Screen, Esq.

What Attorneys Need to Know from the Social Sciences: Incorporating the Knowledge of Other Professionals Into Your Decision-Making.

Lyn K. Slater, Ph.D.

National Trends and Variations in the Function of Attorneys as Advocates for Children

Professor Merril Sobie

(There will be a coffee break from 10:20-10:30)

10:55 – 12:10 Ethical Concerns and Representational Problems Facing Attorneys for Children

Panel Discussion

The discussion will cover fact patterns reflecting many (but not all) of the following problematic situations:

  • Domestic violence (child wants to live with abuser of other parent)
  • Influence of parent (child wants no visitation due to conditioning by custodial parent)
  • Advocating therapeutic supervised visitation for reluctant child
  • Relocation (child does not fully understand difficulty of long-distance visitation)
  • Return to unsafe home (child wants return notwithstanding drug use or inadequate supervision)
  • Kinship foster care (child needs structured placement but wants to live with relative)
  • Termination of parental rights (should type of advocacy be affected by irrevocability of proceeding)
  • When if ever should the attorney state that his client wants one thing and he is advocating for another.
  • Conflicts between children’s positions (when do they rise to the level of requiring withdrawal)


       Program Chair
     George E. Reed, Jr., Esq.    

       White Plains


John E. Carter, Jr., Esq.

Director, Law Guardian Program, Third Department, Albany

Lyn K. Slater, Ph.D.

Clinical Assistant Professor,

Fordham University Graduate School of Social Services and School of Law

New York City

Hon. Edwina G. Richardson-Mendelson

Family Court Supervising Judge, 11th Jud. Dist. (Queens)

Gary S. Solomon, Esq.

The Legal Aid Society
New York City

Crystal L. Screen, Esq.

Law Office of Crystal L. Screen, Jamaica

Prof. Merril Sobie

Pace University School of Law, White Plains

Honorable Jeffrey S. Sunshine

Acting Justice, Supreme Court, Kings County

About Robert J. Schack

Robert J. Schack was a founding member of the Committee on Children and the Law and, for many years, Chair of the Legislative Subcommittee. A supervising attorney at the New York State Attorney General’s Office, Mr. Schack represented the State in several landmark juvenile justice and child welfare cases. He was a tireless advocate for children’s rights and interests, and contributed enormously to the Committee’s and the NYSBA's achievements.

Special Note for Law Guardian and Family Court Assigned Counsel Panel Members: Members of Appellate Division Law Guardian Panels are eligible to apply for a tuition waiver for this program. If you qualify for this waiver, you cannot register online. You must obtain a 2009 Waiver Form from your Law Guardian Director or download the waiver form at, attach it to the completed Annual Meeting Registration Form, and fax or mail back the completed forms to the number/address listed. A limited number of waivers are available on a fi rst come/ fi rst serve basis for Family Court or Family Court Appeals assigned counsel panel members who are not currently on a law guardian panel. To inquire about these waivers, please call Catheryn Teeter at (518) 487-5621 before January 20, 2009. No waivers can be issued after the cutoff date. Please note that if you are not a member of the New York State Bar Association, the $200 nonmember surcharge cannot be waived.

If you need assistance relating to a disability, please contact the NYSBA Meetings Department sufficiently in advance so that we can make every effort to provide reasonable accommodations.

For overnight room accommodations, please call the New York Marriott Marquis at 1-800-843-4898 and identify yourself as a member of the New York State Bar Association. Room rates are $272.00 for single/double occupancy. Reservations must be made by Monday, December 22, 2008.

For questions about this specific program, please contact Katherine Suchocki, Esq. at 518-487-5590. For registration questions only, please call 518-487-5621. Please use 866-680-0946 to fax your registration form.

Challenges for Law Guardians:
The Attorney for the Child in the New Era

Sponsored by the Children and the Law Committee

Friday, January 30, 2009
New York Marriott Marquis
1535 Broadway, New York City
9:00 a.m. – 12:10 p.m.
Majestic Complex (6th Floor)


Table of Contents of Program Book

Registration Information

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Committee on Children and the Law Program
View this Flyer in PDF

Annual Meeting Registration Form

NYSBA General Annual Meeting Information

Register on-line now (not for Law Guardians)

2009 Waiver Form for Law Guardians


Last Updated January 22, 2009


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