Social Work Ethics & Law Institute

SWELI - Social Work Ethics & Law Institute

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

SWELI was established in 2005 as an educational project of the NASW Legal Defense Fund, with the support of the NASW National Ethics Committee. 

SWELI was created to further one of the important purposes of the NASW Legal Defense Fund: to conduct educational activities and establish education programs related to legal, ethical, and professional issues to assist NASW members, the social work profession, and the public to understand importance of ethical social work issues.


SWELI supports educational projects related to the intersection of legal principles and precedents with ethical social work practice and issues of importance in the application of the NASW Code of Ethics. 

SWELI also develops information resources about legal precedents that interpret and apply the Code and about statutory and regulatory developments that affect ethical social work practice. Organizing symposia, creating continuing education courses, offering presentations and reports are among the activities conducted by SWELI. 

In addition, a major function for SWELI is to play a role at NASW in developing and disseminating information that will enhance the proper understanding and application of the NASW Code of Ethics so that social work practice meets legal standards.


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. 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.


Legal Defense Fund (LDF)

The Legal Defense Fund was established to develop and disseminate standards of social work practice while strengthening and unifying the social work profession.

Learn more about LDF

Code of Ethics

NASW Code of Ethics

The NASW Code of Ethics is intended to serve as a guide to the everyday professional conduct of social workers.

Learn more about the Code of Ethics

Social Work Ethics Summit

Social Work Ethics Summit

In 2006, NASW convened its first Social Work Ethics Summit to set an agenda to address the most pressing issues in social work ethics today.