OCR Associates Policy
The OCR believes that the use of associates on OCR appointments is a means of providing mentoring and training to newer attorneys and attorneys new to Pediatric Law. The effective use of associates on OCR appointments may additionally enhance the quality of representation provided on individual cases. The policy outlined below is intended to support the use of associates in a manner that achieves efficiencies, complies with the requirements of CJD 04-06, and promotes continuity in representation for children.
Summary of Policy
- Exception: attorneys in the staff model offices working exclusively under the staff model contract.
- Note: The decision regarding which associates in a law firm are eligible to be case-carrying and the decision of how many pick up slots the attorneys in a law firm have are two distinct decisions. For example, there may be situations in which an attorney and his or her associate may both be eligible to be case-carrying attorneys but a firm may only have one pick up slot.
Use of Associates on Out-of-Court Tasks: The use of associates, paralegals, social work professionals who assist attorneys under an OCR contract with out-of-court tasks that are not personally assigned to the GALs under CJD 04-06 (e.g., attending staffings, conducting home visits supplemental to the ones personally required of the GALs) or the court’s orders (e.g., acting as educational surrogate) is permissible as long as the GALs’ use of the staff promotes efficiencies and enhances rather than hinders the attorney’s personal knowledge of the case and continuity of representation for children/youth. Such associates, paralegals, social work professionals do not need specific OCR approval or a contract with the OCR. They do need an individual OCRCARES user ID and must log their work separately.
Associates in Court: CJD 04-06 provides that “in exceptional circumstances, another qualified attorney who has sufficient knowledge of the issues and status of the case may substitute for some hearings, with permission of the court.” Attorneys on the OCR pickup list for a case type are qualified to substitute for such hearings. Additionally, attorneys under contract with the OCR who seek to use associates in their firm to appear in court on their cases in the limited circumstances set forth by CJD 04-06 may apply to the OCR to use an associate within their firm for this purpose. Such attorneys must identify on their application the associate the attorney intends to use and the associate’s qualifications. The OCR will notify the attorney if such associate is determined to be qualified. The attorney’s annual verification form will specifically identify the name of that associate and contain assurances by the attorney that the attorney will ensure the associate: 1) appears in court only under the limited circumstances set forth in CJD 04-06; 2) is appropriately briefed on the matters to be addressed by the court and prepared to state the child’s position on the matters before the court; 3) will continue to receive necessary training on matters relevant to the representation of children (10 hours per CLE reporting period, as required by CJD 04-06). Attorneys who wish to use associates in this capacity mid contracting cycle will fill out a Change of Status Request. The OCR will not have a separate contract with such associates.
OCR Social Services Professionals (SSP) Policy
OCR believes that the use of Social Services Professionals (SSPs) in OCR guardian ad litem (GAL) appointments enhances the quality of GAL representation, as SSPs provide GALs support and assistance from professionals with valuable education, training, and/or experience in social sciences.
Use of SSPs:
GALs must use SSPs in an efficient manner that is consistent with Chief Justice Directive 04-06 (CJD) and OCR/GAL contracts; enhances representation; and promotes continuity in representation for children, families, and professionals.
Qualifications for SSP Rate:
The online Certification of Proposed SSP form (link below) lists the qualifications for the SSP rate. In short, to qualify for the SSP rate, an SSP must have a license in a relevant field, a Master’s in a relevant field, or a Bachelor’s in a relevant field plus at least two years of relevant experience.
Process for Qualifying for SSP Rate:
OCR pays $44/hr. for qualified SSPs. The process for qualifying for the SSP rate follows.
1. An attorney completes the online Certification of Proposed SSP form (“Form,” link below).
2. OCR reviews the Form and either approves or denies the SSP rate. (If OCR has not received a Form for an SSP or OCR denies an SSP rate, OCR will pay the paralegal rate.)
Questions: Please contact your OCR district liaison (staff attorney).
Visit “User Settings > My Office” in CARES to see all the CARES users in your office, whether they’re “active” (i.e. able to log in), and each “Persona” (i.e. user type, like Paralegal). Refer to the “My Office” screen regularly to confirm your office’s CARES users are up to date. Contact OCR if you need to deactivate users.Review the OCR’s Billing Policies and Procedures for support staff billing information. Click here to request and authorize support staff access to CARES. Click here to request to have an SSP certified.