Social Work Ethics and Law Institute

The Social Work Ethics and Law Institute (SWELI) is a center within the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) Foundation.  SWELI was created by the NASW Legal Defense Fund (LDF) to enhance social workers’ understanding and knowledge of legal and ethical issues affecting the social work profession.

LDF was established in 1972 by the NASW Board of Directors. With the purpose of developing and disseminating standards of social work practice while strengthening and unifying the social work profession as a whole, NASW provides continuing education, enforces the Code of Ethics, conducts research, publishes books and studies, promulgates professional criteria and develops policy statements on issues of importance to the social work profession.  LDF assists NASW members by providing financial assistance for legal cases and issues concerning NASW members and the social work profession.  LDF also supports educational projects and programs, such as SWELI, to increase social workers’ knowledge about legal issues in social work practice.  LDF legal briefs are filed in relevant state and federal court cases to protect social work principles and establish precedents in lawsuits that advance the policies of NASW.

NASW’s Office of Ethics and Professional Review (OEPR) is a primary source of information for social workers about the NASW Code of Ethics, which serves as a guide to the professional conduct of social workers.  The OEPR prepares and presents ethics education and training programs and offers ethics consultations to assist NASW members to understand their ethical obligations.


The information contained in this Web site is provided as a service to members and the social work community for educational and information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice.  Transmission of the information is not intended to create, and receipt does not constitute, a lawyer-client relationship between NASW, SWELI, LDF or the author(s) and you.  Nothing reported herein should be used as a substitute for the advice of competent counsel.
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