Ethics Opinion 19-1: Abuse Reporting Requirements for Defense Team Members
Question: The National Association for Public Defense (NAPD) has asked its Ethics Counselors to address
the following significant question. Law firms and public defender offices often employ or contract with social workers and other healthcare professionals to assist lawyers in the delivery of Constitutionally mandated legal services to the lawyers’ clients. These non-lawyer professionals provide essential services to the lawyers, particularly, but hardly exclusively, in capital cases in which mitigation evidence plays such an important role. It is not unusual for these lawyers to be defending clients whose conduct could be the subject of statutory reporting requirements imposed on social workers and other healthcare professionals.