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Legal Consultation

Please note that the national NASW and NASW-Illinois Chapter cannot provide legal advice. While there is general information that we may provide to our membership, the association and chapters cannot provide specific legal advice to your situations. To find legal representation, we suggest contacting your local bar association for information or attorney referrals.

The national NASW office has a host of information pertaining to legal issues and the social work profession. Click here to visit their webpage:

The NASW Legal Defense Fund (LDF) was established in 1972 to provide financial legal assistance and support for legal cases and issues of concern to NASW members and the social work profession. LDF offers educational programs to improve the legal status and knowledge of social workers.

  • Legal Issue of the MonthRecent articles include:

    • Handling Damaged or Destroyed Records (February 2017)

    • Licensure Board Disciplinary Actions — Part III (November 2016)

    • Licensure Board Structure and Authority — Part II (October 2016)

    • Social Work Licensure: Obtaining the Social Work License (September 2016)

    • Social Work and Recent Decisions of the U.S. Supreme Court (July 2016)

    • Jaffee v. Redmond: 20 Years Later (June 2016)

    • Legal Issues in Clinical Supervision (May 2016)

    • FERPA and the Disclosure of Student Education Records (April 2016)

    • Who Is Responsible for Making the Child Abuse Report? (March 2016)

    • Waiver of Co-Payments and Deductibles (February 2016)

    • Couples’ Therapy: Access to Records (January 2016)

    • Social Work Licensing Board Complaints (November 2015)

    • End-of-Life Decision Making (October 2015)

    • Social Workers and Elder Abuse (September 2015)

    • Social Workers and the Recent Decisions of the Supreme Court (June 2015)

    • Quick Reference Guide for Responding to a Subpoena (May 2015)

    • Legal Considerations When a Client Dies by Suicide (April 2015)

    • Termination: Ending the Therapeutic Relationship-Avoiding Abandonment (March 2015)

    • Legal Issues in Health Insurance Audits (February 2015)

    • HIPAA Help for Social Workers (Toolkit)

    • HIPAA Series Part 3 – Breach and Enforcement Rules (November 2014)

    • HIPAA Series Part 2 Security Rule (October 2014)

    • HIPAA Series Part 1 (September 2014)

    • Legal Issues That Can Trip Social Workers Working With Children (February 2014)

    • A Legal Standard for Diagnosing Intellectual Disability (January 2014)

    • A Managed Care Toolkit for NASW Clinical Social Workers (November 2013)

    • HIPAA Highlights for Social Workers (October 2013)

    • A Review of the 2013 NASW Sample HIPAA Privacy Forms (September 2013)

    • Social Workers and the Recent Decisions of the Supreme Court (July 2013)

    • Social Workers and Drug Testing of Public Benefits Applicants (June 2013)

    • Criminalization of Psychotherapist Sexual Misconduct (May 2013)

    • Selling a Clinical Social Work Practice (April 2013)

    • Social Workers and the 2013 Omnibus HIPAA Rule (March 2013)

    • Health Care Privacy Exceptions to Avert Harm and Duty to Warn (February 2013)

    • Social Workers and Labor Strikes (January 2013)

    • Client Records and the Death of a Social Worker (November 2012)

    • Access to Records by Social Workers’ Clients (October 2012)

    • Social Work Ethics and Non-Compete Clauses in Employment Contracts and Independent Contractor Agreements (September 2012)

    • Social Workers and Advance Directives (July 2012)

    • The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) (June 2012)

    • Social Workers, Smartphones and Electronic Health Information (May 2012)

    • Social Workers and Skype – Part II, Telemental Health Law (April 2012)

    • LDF’s Third Prong in its Mission: Providing Legal Information to NASW Members (March 2012)

    • LDF: Defending NASW Members for 40 Years (February 2012)

    • LDF: Forty Years of Legal Advocacy for Social Work (January 2012)

    • Social Workers and Skype: Part I (November 2011)

    • Release of Records and Client Privacy (October 2011)

    • Legal Developments in LGBT Family Rights (September 2011)

    • Health Insurance, HIPAA and Client Privacy (July 2011)

    • Closing a Social Work Private Practice (June 2011)

    • Provider Refusal and Conscience Clause Controversies (May 2011)

    • Social Workers and Health Care Reform (April 2011)

    • Identity Theft “Red Flags Rule” Exclusion for Social Workers (March 2011)

    • Confidentiality of Drug and Alcohol Abuse Treatment Records (February 2011)

    • Social Workers and Child Protection Investigations (January 2011)

    • Social Workers and Record Retention Requirements (November 2010)

    • Privacy Protections for Deceased Clients’ Records (October 2010)

    • Preventing And Responding To Electronic Privacy Breaches (September 2010)

    • Social Workers and the Supreme Court (July 2010)

    • Children’s Treatment Records: Parental Access and Denial (June 2010)

    • Social Workers and Conscience Clauses (May 2010)

    • Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act Interim Final Rules (April 2010)

    • Disclosing Confidential Information to Social Workers’ Business Associates (March 2010)

    • HIPAA Amendments for a New Decade: 2010 and Beyond (February 2010)

    • Social Workers, Immigration Policies and State Benefits (January 2010)

    • Further archives:

  • COVID-19 Legal Resources

  • HIPAA Help for Social Workers

  • Legal Defense Fund Grants

  • About the Amicus Brief Database

  • Law Notes

  • Legal Webinars

  • Social Work Ethics & Law Institute

Frequently Asked Questions

I received a subpoena—what now?  For more information about subpoenas, review Legal Issue of the Month, Quick Reference Guide for Responding to a Subpoena, and Social Workers, HIPAA, and Subpoenas.

I need legal advice. While the association and chapters cannot provide specific legal advice to your situations, we do suggest contacting your liability insurance to find out what is and is not covered by your plan. If you purchased your liability insurance through NASW Assurance Services, contact them here. Please note that the we at the local state chapter do not have access to any information pertaining to your liability insurance policies.

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