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Becoming an Attorney for Family Court Legal Services

Working as a Family Court Legal Services (FCLS) attorney for Administration for Children's Services is a great opportunity for recent law school graduates and seasoned lawyers to work in the area of child welfare and gain significant and rapid litigation experience, appearing in court every day. You will build confidence in writing, presentation and time management while building daily relationships with judges and attorneys for parents and children.

FCLS provides its staff with extensive legal training, coaching and professional development throughout their employment. A career path includes advancement to supervisory and managerial positions with opportunities to build a career within our agency as well as valuable experience to continue elsewhere in public service or to start your own practice. ACS offers a robust benefit package with numerous continuing legal education opportunities, qualification for loan forgiveness, reimbursement for bar fees, comp time, autonomy and job security.

What It Means to Be a Family Court Legal Services Attorney

Family Court Legal Services Attorneys represent ACS on child neglect and abuse cases, permanency hearings, juvenile delinquency proceedings and other child welfare proceedings in the NYC Family Courts. FCLS attorneys work collaboratively with Child Protective Specialists, Case Planners, and other child welfare specialists to further the agency's mission to protect children and youth and improve the lives of families. Attorneys provide general legal assistance for ACS and foster care provider agencies.

As an FCLS Attorney you will:

  • Meet with Child Protective caseworkers to identify and analyze legal problems and issues.
  • Draft legal documents, including pleadings, motions, and memoranda of law and fact by following generally acceptable legal procedures, forms and techniques in order to meet agency needs, goals and objectives.
  • Represent ACS in Family Court on all aspects of child protective proceedings, from filing through contested trials and permanency hearings; and other judicial proceedings including juvenile delinquency and Close to Home matters.
  • Interview witnesses and other relevant parties to the litigation to determine admissibility of various types of evidence.
  • Prepare and maintain case files and documents in advance of court appearances.
  • Conduct legal research and regularly review relevant case laws and regulations to support legal.
  • Counsel Child Protective caseworkers and agency case planners on issues relating to permanency and well-being of children in foster care.
  • The FCLS attorneys are responsible for their own cases and appear in court on a case from initial filing through permanency.

Required Qualifications

  • At the time of employment, graduation from an accredited United States law school as defined in the Rules of the New York Court of Appeals (Sections 520.3 or 520.5) or admission to the New York State Bar.
  • Candidates who are not yet admitted to the NYS bar must also meet the requirements of FCLS' practice order which will allow them to appear in court on behalf of ACS prior to having their own law license. This requirement includes sitting for the very first administration of all three components of the bar examination available after graduation from law school, if not passed while in law school. The components include the Universal Bar Exam (UBE), the New York Law Exam (NYLE), and the Multi-State Professional Responsibility Examination.
  • New York City residency is NOT required.

Frequently Asked Questions About Being a FCLS Attorney

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What kind of training will I receive?

New attorneys typically receive five to six weeks of intensive legal training that focuses on the foundational aspects of child welfare law, relevant case law and statutes, and agency policy and protocol. A significant portion of the training is also spent learning and practicing critical litigation skills and techniques that attorneys use every day.

Whom do I represent?

FCLS attorneys represent the Commissioner of the Administration for Children's Services, which is a NYC mayoral agency, on child neglect and abuse cases in the family court. The types of cases an FCLS attorney handles include those where there is neglect by a parent because of excessive corporal punishment, drug or alcohol misuse, domestic violence, or inadequate supervision or guardianship. More serious cases involve allegations of physical or sexual abuse by a parent or caretaker. The individuals who FCLS attorneys work with daily and appear with in court are thousands of highly trained Child Protective Specialists (CPS) who act as the agents of ACS' Commissioner. CPS investigate allegations of abuse and neglect and bring a portion of those cases to FCLS, when necessary, for the purpose of seeking court intervention to help families and to keep children safe. FCLS partners closely with CPS on those cases to obtain the best outcomes for children and families.

Will I represent children?

No. The children and youth who are the subject of the cases filed in court by ACS are assigned their own attorneys who do not work at ACS/FCLS. An FCLS attorney'’'s job is to represent the Commissioner of ACS in Family Court and to take positions that keep children safe and that promote the best interest of the child or youth on that case.

What is a typical day like?

FCLS attorneys spend much of their time in family court handling their cases at every stage of litigation. On any given day, an FCLS attorney is likely to make between four and eight court appearances and will frequently be responsible for conducting emergency hearings.

When not in court, FCLS attorneys focus their time on preparing their cases for trial, speaking with CPS and case-planners about court directives and other critical case issues, conducting legal research and writing, communicating with other attorneys about potential settlements, and generally engaging in all aspects of litigation. A typical work week may vary between 40 - 50 hours.

Will I have supervision?

Every attorney is assigned to a team of attorneys with multiple supervisors. At the start of employment with FCLS, every attorney has a supervisor appear with them in court and assist them with the preparation of their cases. As attorneys gain more experience and expertise in their responsibilities, the requirements for close, in-court supervision start to lift, though supervision is always available when needed.

What are the opportunities for further advancement?

During the first three years of employment as an FCLS attorney, there are routine opportunities for promotion and advancement based on job performance. After that, promotional opportunities are still readily available but are generally achieved through a competitive interview process.


The starting salary for an Agency Attorney Interne is $78,411. After successful completion of 6 months of service in the Agency Attorney Interne title, and admission to the NYS Bar, Attorney Internes are eligible for promotion to the Agency Attorney Level 1 positions. The salary for the Agency Attorney Level 1 position is $79,454. After a year in that position, staff are again eligible for promotion to the Level 2 position with a salary of $89,753. Once in the Attorney Level 2 position for 6 months, Attorneys may be considered for a further salary increase. In addition to the base salary increases, there are recurring interest payments, longevity differentials, and the potential for overtime and compensatory time earnings.


To learn about employment opportunities with FCLS, email to or visit and search under the drop-down for Children's Services for Attorney Interne and Attorney positions.