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Why Choose A Lawyer For Your IHSS Appeal?

Why Retain A Lawyer

If you appeal a denial of protective supervision or other in-home supportive services (IHSS), you are allowed to have an authorized representative prepare your case and speak on your behalf at the hearing. You can choose anyone to be your authorized representative — whether an attorney, acquaintance, friend, sibling, or other advocate.

What are the advantages of choosing a lawyer to assist you with your IHSS appeal?

1. Court Review

If your appeal has been denied by an administrative law judge, then one of your main options is to seek court review by filing a writ petition in Superior Court. The goal of the writ petition is to convince the Superior Court to set aside the administrative law judge’s decision. This is an important measure of last resort if you lose an IHSS appeal. Only a licensed California attorney can help you file a writ petition, not an advocate. The California Department of Social Services will pay your attorney’s fees if you prevail in showing that the administrative law judge made an error in denying your appeal.

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By having a lawyer help you with your IHSS appeal, then your authorized representative will be fully prepared to seek court review in the event you happen to get an unfavorable decision.

2. Effective Advocacy

Generally speaking, by receiving a legal education, an attorney learns the tools of effective advocacy. This includes, among other things, identifying key issues and critical facts, and presenting a clear, compelling argument. Of course, one does not need to go to law school to become an effective advocate, nor is every attorney an effective advocate.

Knowing how to effectively advocate can make a big difference in presenting your IHSS appeal. In a recent case where we assisted a parent with her rehearing request for protective supervision, we reviewed her position statement for the initial hearing, which was prepared by a certain advocacy group. This position statement contained so many irrelevant facts and attached so much unnecessary documentation, that it was quite confusing to figure out whether her son should have qualified for protective supervision. For example, this position statement discussed various aggressive behaviors that the applicant engaged in towards others. However, protective supervision cannot be authorized for aggressive behaviors, so it should never have been mentioned. The position statement also contained contradictory information, including statements made by the mother which undermined her case. Unsurprisingly, an administrative law judge denied their initial appeal for protective supervision.

If your representative doesn’t present a clear argument, then an administrative law judge might not be able to identify enough evidence to decide in your favor.

3. Reliability

California attorneys must comply with the State Bar’s Rules of Professional Conduct. Some of the many requirements that the State Bar impose include:

  • An obligation to provide competent representation;
  • An obligation to act with commitment and dedication to the interests of the client;
  • An obligation to promptly inform clients of significant developments;
  • An obligation to protect client confidentiality; and,
  • A prohibition against misleading communications;

The reason these requirements are important is because they help ensure that you get quality representation for your case. If you don’t, then you can report the attorney to the State Bar, and the attorney might be subject to discipline.

By contrast, unlicensed advocates lack a similar governing body that enforces professional quality standards. Without such oversight, there may be more variability in representation. For example, a potential client called us and explained the following incident: she had initially hired an advocacy group for her appeal, to challenge a denial of IHSS protective supervision. Inexplicably, her unlicensed representative failed to return her emails and phone calls. She later found out that her representative had rescheduled the date of her hearing multiple times. Finally, at the hearing, her advocate admitted that she also delayed sending important documentation to the county’s social worker. Her representative then agreed that in the event the client won protective supervision, the county would only have to pay the mandatory back-payment from the date the representative sent the documentation, rather than the date of the application, a difference of about 8 months. As a result, after the claimant won protective supervision and the county paid her a significantly reduced back-payment, she lost out on over $20,000.

Had the advocate in this unfortunate case been a licensed attorney in California, her client could have reported her possible malpractice to the State Bar, as the advocate would have likely violated several Rules of Professional Conduct.


There are many types of representatives that can help you with your IHSS appeal. However, only an attorney licensed in California can appeal your IHSS denial in Superior Court. In addition, it is generally only attorneys who receive a legal education and learn the tools of effective advocacy. Lastly, only attorneys must comply with the State Bar’s Rules of Professional Conduct, which help ensure reliable, qualify representation for your IHSS appeal.

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