Legal Defense Fund

What is NASW's "LDF"?

  • NASW Legal Defense Fund (LDF)
  • Established by NASW in 1972
  • Provides financial legal assistance and support for legal cases and issues of concern to NASW members and the social work profession
  • LDF also supports educational projects and programs to improve the legal status and knowledge of the social work profession

To be eligible for financial assistance from LDF, a social worker must:

  1. be a member in good standing of NASW (Join NASW),
  2. have a case that falls within the selection criteria established by the LDF Board of Trustees, and
  3. submit a completed application (Financial Assistance Application).
How does the LDF benefit NASW members and the social work profession?

As a part of its mission, LDF has supported precedent setting lawsuits and makes available legal resources of interest to NASW members and social workers generally. Some notable items produced with LDF support include:

  • A series of 12 law notes on legal topics relevant to social workers.
  • An archive of 100 free legal articles for NASW members only (Legal Issue of the Month)
  • A friend of the court brief that was noted in the Supreme Court's opinion in the  landmark case, Jaffee v. Redmond, which established a federal psychotherapist-patient privilege for social workers and their clients.
  • A friend of the court brief that helped legal counsel establish the right for licensed clinical social workers practicing in Maryland to testify as expert witnesses (see In re Adoption/Guardianship No. CCJ14746, (Legal Briefs Filed by NASW).
  • Workshops and educational materials presented to national and state social work conferences and NASW chapters.
  • Creation of the NASW Social Work Ethics & Law Institute.

The work of LDF is financed principally by contributions from NASW members through the check-off contained on member dues renewal forms. Consideration of available financial resources is one of the criteria established by the LDF Board as a guideline for decision making on applications for financial assistance (Give $40 for 40 Years).

NASW LDF staff is not able to respond to requests for specific legal advice. Requests for funding assistance for legal issues should be submitted through the grant application process.

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