Incorporating Social Workers into the Defense Team to Improve Outcomes in All Phases of Litigation

It is common for defense attorneys to hire experts in ballistics, fingerprints, accident reconstruction, identification, psychology, and numerous other fields. Often, however, social workers are absent from the list of common defense experts. They should not be. The opioid crisis, not to mention the ongoing debate about mass incarceration and mandatory minimum sentencing laws, and the growing awareness of the role that mental illness plays in confrontations with law enforcement, make this an auspicious time to push for incorporating social workers into the defense team. Social workers can provide may beneficial services to the defense team, and their contributions will vary from case to case. Broadly speaking, their services can be broken down into three categories: the psychosocial evaluation, program placement, and client interviews and management.