Individual Case Support Guidelines

The NASW Legal Defense Fund Fund Trust Agreement provides as one of its six purposes:

(1) to provide funds to help defray the cost of counsel and other legal expenses for the effective assistance of NASW members

(a) where difficulties are related to the goals, objectives and/or standards of social work practice advocated by NASW; and

(b) for whom help is essential to obtain the legal or other services required.

(See Trust Agreement, pgs. 4-5)

In order to effectuate these goals and to establish guidelines for providing financial assistance in response to individual requests, the following criterion will be used to guide the Trustees in allocating funds to a particular case.

Primary Criterion
  • the significance/importance of the legal issues, as described in the application, to the goals and objectives of the social work profession;
  • the possibility of establishing a beneficial legal precedent for the social work profession;
  • the need to uphold the Code of Ethics or the principles and/or standards of social work practice advocated by NASW, rather than taking actions for some personal benefit to the applicant alone; and
  • the presence of meritorious claims.

The following secondary considerations will also be used when reviewing applications:

  • the number of cases to be considered for funding
  • the possibility of continuing funding into a second or additional fiscal year
  • the demands for funds for other projects of importance to LDF

Generally, financial assistance provided to individual NASW members’ LDF applications should be viewed as contributing support for a portion of the litigation costs but not normally underwriting the entire case. Occasionally an individual application may meet the criterion articulated in Purpose (3) of the Trust agreement:

(3) to promote the interests of the social work profession or of a significantly large group of NASW members in such matters as pay equity and declassification, and/or to challenge restrictions that tend to bar social workers from qualifying as providers of services under certain managed care arrangements or in other health and mental health settings.

Such cases may require a larger and ongoing commitment of funds. In addition, the member’s chapter may be requested to consider fundraising. In order to balance the demands for LDF financial support, individual case allocations will generally not exceed $3,000-$5,000 in any one year. In addition, members will be requested to repay from any settlement or court award, the monies paid by the Fund to support their litigation.

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