The Hippocratic Oath directs doctors to “do no harm” to their patients. The Codes of Conduct for lawyers direct us to represent our clients zealously, to be chameleons, as it were, changing our colors to blend seamlessly into the needs of our clients. This standard is no different when representing a child client as the Attorney for the Child (AFC).

Questions present themselves: How far can we go in substituting our wishes for the child client’s when we think the child’s wishes are not in their best interests? What should we do when we can’t convince our child clients as to what we think we know is best for them? When is the situation so fraught with danger for the child client as to make it necessary and proper for us to substitute our judgment for that of our child client? Or is that even the standard? Does the Code of Conduct for the AFC oblige us to advocate the expressed wishes of the child client even if the result will not be in the child client’s best interests? These and other related issues are what this article explores.

The Role of the AFC