Guardian Ad Litem Training DVD

As of August 1, 2012, attorneys may receive CLE credit only once for viewing the DVDs. Attorneys may, however, become re-certified for one additional year by viewing the DVDs a second time, but they will not receive any additional CLE credit for doing so.

The Child Advocacy Committee of the Young Lawyers Division of The Mississippi Bar is writing to share important information about an endeavor that for the past several years has directly benefited Mississippi's Courts, local bar associations, and youth. For the past several years, Chancellors as well as Youth Court Judges throughout the state have often commented upon the noticeable shortage of certified guardians ad litem available to serve in their courts. Juvenile advocates have also observed the shortage. This statewide problem is two-fold.

First, many potential special advocates lack financial resources or opportunities to obtain appropriate certification to serve as a guardian ad litem. As you know, law firms frequently decline to sponsor or pay for Continuing Legal Education (CLE) credit hours pertaining to areas which do not directly relate to revenue-generating business. Additionally, many solo practitioners, particularly in small-town communities, do not have the luxury of excess funds to attend costly seminars to become certified as a special advocate.

Secondly, due to the shortage of certified guardians, many Chancellors and Youth Court judges across the state lack an adequate pool from which to draw volunteers to appoint for the purpose of conducting independent fact-finding in the often sensitive matters in which special advocates are essential. The culmination of these issues creates a serious problem for our Mississippi bar and bench. As part of a community of advocates, we witness a tremendous void in terms of qualified representatives for the youth of our state.

To confront and address this imminent need, the Child Advocacy Committee of The Mississippi Bar, together with The University of Mississippi School of Law and Mississippi College School of Law, produced a DVD series for purposes of certifying more guardians ad litem. Copies of the DVDs have been purchased and distributed to each judicial district courtesy of The Mississippi Bar. The DVDs have been approved for six (6) hours of CLE credit. Corresponding supplemental written materials are available in PDF format on this page. These instructional materials have been approved by the Bar and comply with the Mississippi CLE requirements. Attorneys who view the Guardian Ad Litem Training DVDs may utilize the training for both certification and CLE purposes. As of August 1, 2012, attorneys may receive CLE credit only once for viewing the DVDs. Attorneys may, however, become re-certified for one additional year by viewing the DVDs a second time, but they will not receive any additional CLE credit for doing so.

In the summer of 2012, the Child Advocacy Committee and The Mississippi Bar, in conjunction with Debbie Bell and David Calder, updated the written materials which supplement the DVDs.

This informative training seminar offers detailed and varied perspectives on the role of GALs in our legal system. Panola County Youth Court Judge Adam Pittman offers a perspective from the bench. Social worker Tamiko Mackey discusses ideal methods of interviewing children. Leading authorities in the field, including professor-practitioners Debbie Bell, David Calder, and Shirley Kennedy, present valuable information addressing the role of the special advocate, frequently encountered ethical issues, procedural matters, and much more.

Again, two copies of the DVDs have been made available to each judicial district as a courtesy of the Child Advocacy Committee and The Mississippi Bar. Any attorney licensed in Mississippi may check out the DVDs for CLE credit. After doing so, the attorney will sign an affidavit verifying that he or she has watched the video, understands its contents, and will comply with the regulations governing guardians ad litem. The attorney will then be placed on a list of lawyers willing to serve pro bono on one case per upcoming calendar year. That bar member will remain in a queue of volunteers for one year from the execution date of the affidavit. René Garner, Section and Division Coordinator for The Mississippi Bar, will monitor earned credit hours, maintain records, and furnish you with accurate and up-to-date lists so that you will know the pool of volunteer attorneys available to serve within your jurisdiction.

Should you have any questions or concerns, please contact René Garner at Thank you for taking this moment to learn more about this opportunity to provide minors in Mississippi the quality representation that they deserve

     2012-2013 Child Advocacy Committee
The Mississippi Bar
Young Lawyers Division

The Guardian Ad Litem Training DVDs are available with the Chancellors in your area. Contact your local Chancellor to check out the DVDs. 

To obtain continuing legal education (CLE) credit and to be added to the queue to serve pro bono on one GAL case per year, you will need to download the forms below and mail both forms along with $25 to The Mississippi Bar, Attn: Rene' Garner, PO Box 2168, Jackson, Mississippi 39225-2168. For additional information, please contact Rene' at

        Download the CLE form      

        Download the Affidavit

The following written materials are available in PDF format for individual download and printing. These supplemental materials may be useful to Guardians Ad Litem (GAL) becoming certified through the Guardian Ad Litem Training DVDs made available through the Young Lawyers Division of The Mississippi Bar. 

These materials are the property of the professors, lawyers, and social worker who served as presenters in the Guardian Ad Litem Training. Although the following materials are available for reference purposes, these written works remain the work product of the author/presenters therein. 

Disc 1 - Duties of Guardian (1 hour, 15 minutes)
Panel: Debbie Bell, Shirley Kennedy, David Calder 


Power Point Presentation, Shirley Kennedy

GAL Representation, Debbie Bell

Order Appointing GAL

Checklist for GAL Investigation

Guardian ad Litem Interview

Instructions for obtaining youth court and DHS records

Motion and order for issuance of subpoena duces tecum for youth court records

Subpoena duces tecum for youth court

Subpoena duces tecum for DHS

Order authorizing release of youth court or DHS records

GAL as expert witness

Disc 2 - Duties of Guardian (1 hour)
Panel: David Calder, Shirley Kennedy 


            Same as Disc 1 materials 

Disc 3 - Custody (1 hour)

Presenter: Debbie Bell 


         Custody and Visitation


Disc 4 - Interviewing Children (1 hour)
Presenter: Tomiko Mackey 


          Power Point Slides, Tomiko Mackey 

Disc 5 - Special Topics (45 minutes)
anel: Shirley Kennedy, Debbie Bell, Adam Pittman 


            Termination and Adoption Actions

            Rule 81(d) 

Disc 6 - Ethical Issues (1 hour)
Moderator: Debbie Bell

Panel: David Calder, Shirley Kennedy, and Adam Pittman 


            Summary of Youth Court Rules

            Summary of Rules of Youth Court Practice 


            Youth Court Rules

            American Bar Association GAL Standards