As a Guardian ad Litem Attorney through the DC Volunteer Lawyers Project, you will represent a vulnerable child in a contentious custody case and attempt to ensure that they grow up in a safe and stable home. You will be appointed by a D.C. Family Court judge as a child's guardian ad litem ("GAL"). GALs are appointed in cases where family circumstances are such that the judge has serious concerns about the safety and security of the child; these circumstances can include allegations or evidence of child abuse or neglect, allegations or evidence of domestic violence in the home, substance abuse or incarceration of a parent, serious mental or physical illness of a parent or the child, a developmental disability of a parent or the child, or a third party seeking custody over the objection of a parent.
Previous family law experience is not required. GAL attorneys undertake a thorough investigation of the case, which includes visits to the child’s home(s), school(s) and with the child’s caretakers, as well as reviewing medical and school records. GALs participate in all aspects of the custody case by attending all hearings, filing reports, motions and other pleadings, participating at trial, and making custody and visitation recommendations that are in the best interests of their child clients and ensure their safety. Representing a child client as a guardian ad litem typically takes 3-6 months, but in some cases, representation may last longer.
We offer to all volunteers: comprehensive training programs, live and online; mentorship by an experienced supervising attorney, who reviews all written work and accompanies the volunteer to court; access to an extensive resource library, including sample pleadings; administrative support; malpractice insurance; and more.
To get started, please fill out a volunteer registration form at dcvlp.org/registration. Then, please email Emilia Plater-Zyberk at email@example.com for next steps or with questions.
Good Match For
Requirements & Commitment
- Orientation or Training