legal defense fund

since 1972, nasw's legal defense fund (ldf) has provided financial legal assistance and support for legal cases and issues of concern to nasw members and the social work profession. ldf supports educational projects and programs to improve the legal status and knowledge of the social work profession.

what we do

as a part of its mission, ldf supports precedent-setting lawsuits and makes available legal resources of interest to nasw members and social workers generally. some notable items produced with ldf support include:

  • the law notes series
  • legal issue article
  • the social work ethics & law institute
  • workshops and educational materials presented at national and state social work conferences and to nasw chapters.
  • amicus briefs, including one that was noted in the supreme court's opinion in the landmark case,jaffee v. redmond, which established a federal psychotherapist-patient privilege for social workers and their clients; and another that helped legal counsel establish the right for licensed clinical social workers practicing in maryland to testify as expert witnesses.

legal defense fund established in 1972

the nasw legal defense fund (ldf) was to assist nasw members in three areas:

  • first, a fund was created from member contributions to support nasw members with legal fees in cases involving social work issues.
  • second, the ldf was created to give a voice to nasw and the social work profession in the courts, in particular in precedent setting appellate litigation involving nasw policy issues or social work practice.
  • third, ldf was tasked with offering members timely information about legal developments and cases of importance to the social work profession. through this third purpose, ldf has had its widest reach – making its publications and legal resources available to nasw members and, when appropriate, to the public.

legal defense fund history

your support sustains ldf

the work of the legal defense fund is financed principally by contributions from nasw members through the check-off box on the member dues renewal form. honorary contributions in recognition or remembrance of social workers are also accepted.

donations enable ldf to provide important services to our members, including financial assistance for legal support.


nasw ldf staff is not able to respond to requests for specific legal advice. requests for funding assistance for legal issues should be submitted through the grant application process.

the information contained in this website is provided as a service to members and the social work community for educational and information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. we provide timely information, but we make no claims, promises or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of the information contained in or linked to this website and its associated sites. transmission of the information is not intended to create, and receipt does not constitute, a lawyer-client relationship between nasw, ldf, or the author(s) and you. nasw members and online readers should not act based on the information provided in the ldf website. laws and court interpretations change frequently. legal advice must be tailored to the specific facts and circumstances of a particular case.nothing reported herein should be used as a substitute for the advice of competent counsel.