The law guardian system constitutes a unique opportunity to protect the interests and rights of New York's children. Inaugurated in 1962 and expanded greatly in the past twenty years, the system's goals are laudatory. However, a lack of structure and responsibility has seriously compromised the effectiveness of counsel. Representation is frequently characterized by perfunctory preparation and a waiver of substantive and procedural rights. Moreover, the system is needlessly bifurcated and incapable of providing the education, experience and assistance required for effective counsel. The Bar Association study provides a blueprint for improvement. Legislative restructuring to establish an independent board and office capable of establishing policies and monitoring the system, as well as providing educational and support services, is one priority. In addition, use of the appellate process must be encouraged and standards of representation adopted through guideline promulgation and appellate review. The objective is to improve and augment the level of representation while preserving the current system of an individualized representation.
Merril Sobie, The Representation of Children: A Summary and Analysis of the Bar Association Law Guardian Study, N.Y. St. B.J., Feb. 1985, at 41, http://digitalcommons.pace.edu/lawfaculty/616/.