In California conservatorship is a legal mechanism that allows an individual or agency (the conservator) to act on behalf of a gravely disabled mentally ill person (the conservatee) to determine what arrangements are necessary to provide adequate food, clothing, shelter; and treatment, including hospitalization when indicated. Conservatorship can play an important role in clinical management and treatment, particularly if the gravely disabled person does not have close family involvement and support, as case histories indicate. The benefits of conservatorship can be greatly enhanced by combining it with case management. When family members are appointed as conservators, skilled clinical staff can help them use the leverage of conservatorship therapeutically. By giving up some of their freedom, many conservatees who would ordinarily need to be hospitalized for long periods are able to retain most of their independence and their community status.