FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Want to learn more about
Can I hire Tulsa Lawyers for Children (TLC) to represent a child in need?
No. TLC only accepts appointments to represent abused and neglected children from the Judges at the Juvenile Division of the Tulsa District Court. A referral is made to TLC when there is conflict of interest within the Public Defender’s Office or when the siblings within a family group desire different legal outcomes.
Does TLC represent children in other counties in Oklahoma?
Presently, TLC only represents children who are abused and neglected in Tulsa County. However, many of the children we represent reside in foster homes outside of Tulsa County.
Do I have to be a lawyer to volunteer for TLC?
No! There are several ways you can volunteer at TLC. You can serve on the Board of Directors, work with children one on one, assist in the office or volunteer for an event. To become a volunteer, click here.
What is the difference between a TLC volunteer attorney and CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates)?
A CASA volunteer acts as a guardian ad litem, for an abused or neglected child and is required by law to advocate for a child’s best interest. While an attorney may volunteer to serve as a CASA volunteer, CASA volunteers do not function as attorneys in juvenile court cases.
A TLC volunteer is an attorney providing pro bono legal services to a child at all Juvenile Court proceedings involving that child and his/her parents or guardians. Depending on the age of the child, the TLC volunteer may represent a child’s best interest or expressed interest. TLC volunteers consider the child a client and treat the child as any adult paying client.
I am an attorney, but I don’t specialize in Juvenile Law. Can I still volunteer for TLC?
Yes! Each year TLC provides four opportunities to learn more about Title 10A – the Oklahoma Children’s Code. A three-hour course is offered each quarter at the University of Tulsa – College of Law. This training provides an overview of deprived cases involving abuse or neglect from adjudication to permanency.
Additional learning opportunities are offered throughout the year in a variety of different venues. All TLC offerings are approved for continuing legal education (CLE) credits by the Oklahoma Bar Association.
The classes are always free, but pre-registration is required.
Do lawyers receive any financial compensation for their work with TLC?
No, all of the lawyers trained by TLC donate their time to represent children on a pro bono basis (for free).
How much time must attorney volunteers commit?
- TLC attorney volunteers are generally assigned one case at a time. Usually, each volunteer only represents one child unless siblings are placed together in the same foster home.
- The frequency of Court hearings may vary. Generally, hearings are held several times a year. Prior to each Court appearance, volunteer attorneys are required by statute to meet with their clients. However, TLC volunteer attorneys are asked to meet with their clients monthly in order to ensure their clients’ well-being. TLC volunteers average approximately 20 hours per year visiting their clients and making court appearances. Some cases may require a greater time commitment when the matters can only be resolved by a non-jury or a jury trial.
- Court appearances are somewhat informal. The judge, the parents’ attorneys, DHS, the Assistant District Attorney, and the child’s counsel discuss the case, check on the status of children, and monitor the parents’ compliance with the court ordered treatment plans. Because of the heavy caseloads and correspondingly large court dockets in Tulsa County, many TLC attorneys report spending at least an hour simply waiting for their case to be called.
- Non-jury trials rarely last for more than one day, but Jury Trials may take as long as a week.
- The Court may order case staffings or mediations to resolve conflicts or improve parent engagement. TLC attorneys are required to attend mediations and Court ordered staffings. If a TLC volunteer attorney is unable to attend a Court hearing or Court ordered mediation or staffing, TLC staff or another volunteer attorney can help with coverage.
Are there any special requirements for TLC Volunteers?
- Be a member in good standing with the Oklahoma Bar Association.
- Complete and submit the TLC Background Check and Registry Declaration to the Program Coordinator (firstname.lastname@example.org).
- Complete the three-hours course on Title 10-A or have prior experience in juvenile deprived matters.
- Sign the Volunteer Attorney Expectations.
- Carry professional liability insurance or participate in the TLC umbrella policy (available only to attorneys, such as government, corporate in-house and retired attorneys, who are not in private practice and do not have professional liability coverage in their employment).