Legal Defense Fund

Since 1972 the mission of the Legal Defense fund (LDF), which was established by the NASW Board, has been to advance the legal interests of the social work profession. 

The LDF accomplishes this goal through a three-pronged approach.

  1. Through the LDF, NASW files amicus (“friend of the court”) briefs in cases of import to the profession around the country such as cases addressing the rights of clinicians to protect the confidentiality of client records. 
  2. The LDF provides financial assistance for selected legal cases of concern to the profession, helping ensure that social workers have their “day in court.” To date, the LDF has provided grants totaling approximately $100,000, which was made possible only through the generous contributions of our members. 
  3. LDF provides members with unique education and training resources. For instance, the LDF provides a members-only free consultation service on social work practice legal issues and has put out numerous legal publications that help social workers better understand their rights and responsibilities. 

Your Support Sustains LDF

The work of the Legal Defense Fund is financed principally by contributions from NASW members through the check-off box on the member dues renewal form. Honorary contributions in recognition or remembrance of social workers are also accepted.

Donations enable LDF to provide important services to our members, including financial assistance for legal support.


Notice 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.

The information contained in this website is provided as a service to members and the social work community for educational and information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. We provide timely information, but we make no claims, promises or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of the information contained in or linked to this website and its associated sites. Transmission of the information is not intended to create, and receipt does not constitute, a lawyer-client relationship between NASW, LDF, or the author(s) and you. NASW members and online readers should not act based on the information provided in the LDF website. Laws and court interpretations change frequently. Legal advice must be tailored to the specific facts and circumstances of a particular case. Nothing reported herein should be used as a substitute for the advice of competent counsel.