In addition to having a client who meets the eligibility requirements of a particular fund, and has an issue within Disability Rights Washington’s 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 accepted cases are 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)  Disability Rights Washington may provide legal advocacy assistance only to individuals who are eligible for Disability Rights Washington’s services.

b)  Disability Rights Washington 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 Disability Rights Washington operates;

c)  Disability Rights Washington 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, Disability Rights Washington will provide only technical assistance to assigned counsel;

d)  Disability Rights Washington 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.  Disability Rights Washington 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)  Disability Rights Washington 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, Disability Rights Washington 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 Disability Rights Washington unless it can be resolved in accordance with the Washington Rules of Professional conduct; and

g)  Disability Rights Washington 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, Disability Rights Washington has identified factors to determine when Disability Rights Washington will provide client assistance or direct representation:

The problem raises issues within the Disability Rights Washington 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 Disability Rights Washington’s priorities.
  • The client’s desired outcomes are consistent with Disability Rights Washington’s priorities.
  • The problem requires the assistance of Disability Rights Washington’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.
  • Disability Rights Washington staff resources within a normal work week and caseload capacity are sufficient to provide skillful representation, which will meet the client’s objectives.