The Legal Aspects of the LMSW Exam: Jurisdiction

By Emily Pellegrino on September 6, 2012


During my graduate program I took a class on the legal aspects of the helping profession.  And while I will admit it was not the most exhilarating class I took, it was definitely a helpful and important one.  As helping professionals we need to be aware of our legal obligations because it is essentially an ethical obligation as well.  This week we'll take a closer look at the term jurisdiction and how that relates to our profession and how it could be tested on the LMSW Exam.  Let's start off with a sample question.

 Sample Question:

Which of the following terms BEST defines jurisdiction?

A. The defined area of responsibility by a territory or state over which authority or justice is administered.

B. The philosophy and science of law in terms of its origins, nature, and structure.

C. A system of rules and legislative pronouncements established and recognized by a state, nation, or society as binding to its members.

D. The social institutions, facilities, and people who provide the means for enforcing and interpreting the laws.  

While this may seem like an obvious term, it is one that often appears on the LMSW exam in various ways.  Jurisdiction is defined by the ASWB as the the state or provincial social work regulatory board who has the power and authority to interpret and apply the law.  It is important to understand the laws of the jurisdiction in which you practice so that you are aware of your legal obligations.  These obligations include reporting violence or harm towards others, child and elder abuse or neglect based upon your jurisdictional law. Even as we go through the licensing process, each jurisdiction has a different set of rules and requirements that enable you to be licensed in that particular state.  It can definitely make things more confusing which is why it's important to understand the laws of your own jurisdiction. The ASWB has a comprehensive list of the statutes and regulations for each jurisdiction that can be found here:

Answer: The best answer here would be A.  B, C and D are all more broader definitions of laws and the justice system as a whole. The incorrect definitions each leave out the important piece of defining jurisdiction which is a territory or area that is governed by an authority in order to administer laws and regulations.  A provides a more specific definition to include each of these various aspects.

Coming up next week: Kleptomania so check back to "steal" some more free tips to help you pass your LMSW Exam.

Think our straightforward, sensible approach could help you PASS your LMSW exam? If you're preparing for the social work exam, check out our LMSW Study Materials. Learn more about our social work exam prep at the Therapist Development Center home page. Also, see the social work license requirements by state section on the Therapist Development Center site.

Looking for more practice questions and some study tips? Check out our new Social Work Exam Study Guide:

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