Case acceptance

In addition to having a client who meets the eligibility requirements of a particular fund and has an issue within DRW priorities for that fund, a potential case must go through a case acceptance process where a broad range of factors are considered.  

Mandatory case acceptance considerations


All cases are accepted in accordance with the protection and advocacy acts.  42 U.S.C. § 15001 et seq; 42 U.S.C. § 10801 et seq; 29 U.S.C. § 794e.

a)  DRW may provide legal advocacy assistance only to individuals who are eligible for DRW’s services.

b)  DRW may provide legal advocacy assistance only when the problem is clearly related to the person's disability as defined in the federal laws under which DRW operates;

c)  DRW may not represent an individual when the legal problem involves a statutory right to appointed counsel, such as commitment, guardianship or criminal proceedings unless there are compelling or unique circumstances that are consistent with the requirements of the protection and advocacy acts and the relevant regulations.  Absent such circumstances, DRW will provide only technical assistance to assigned counsel;

d)  DRW generally does not provide legal advocacy assistance when the request for service is one commonly accepted by the private bar or by local legal service and advocacy organizations based on the type of legal issue raised or the likelihood of recovery.  Exceptions may be made by the Director of Legal Advocacy in cases in which there exists a large system-wide impact and DRW has ample capacity.  DRW ensures that its work supplements and does not supplant the level of non-Federal funds available in Washington for individuals with disabilities. See, e.g., 42 C.F.R. § 51.6(a); 45 C.F.R. § 1386.21(b).

e)  DRW will not represent the interests of guardians of persons with disabilities except on issues where the guardian and client’s interests will not conflict. In this regard, DRW does not represent or advise petitioners in guardianship proceedings.  This does not pertain to limited guardianship for the purpose of litigation;

f)  DRW will not provide representation where there is an ethical or professional conflict within DRW unless it can be resolved in accordance with the Washington Rules of Professional conduct; and

g)  DRW will not provide legal representation where there is not a reasonable likelihood of success based on legal and factual merit.  If there is a question as to the merits, the case can only be accepted for investigation both factual and/or legal.  

Resource capacity factors


In order to optimize the use of limited resources, DRW has identified factors to determine when DRW will provide client assistance or direct representation: 

The problem raises issues within the DRW advocacy services priorities and the related issues:

  • Non-priority cases may be accepted if there are no competing demands on funding and staff resources for services under DRW’s priorities.

The client’s desired outcomes are consistent with DRW’s priorities.
The problem requires the assistance of DRW’s legal staff.

  • The individual is unable to effectively advocate for himself or herself.

  • Other advocacy resources do not appear able or willing to provide the required assistance or assist the individual in advocating for herself or himself.

  • DRW staff resources within a normal work week and caseload capacity are sufficient to provide skillful representation, which will meet the client’s objectives.